-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guset Blogger
Annie Dookhan was a chemist in a Massachusetts Department of Public Health drug-testing lab located in the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Jamaica Plain. Dookhan has been indicted on 27 charges including fabricating test results and tampering with drug evidence. Dookhan allegedly told state police that she’d test a few samples but then list them all as positive, and sometimes would take cocaine from another sample and add to a sample that tested negative so it would test positive. Authorities have since shut down the lab. Dookhan has pleaded not guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice and is free on $10,000 cash bail.
The administration of Governor Deval Patrick has hired Boston defense attorney David Meier to determine the scope of the scandal. The state has agreed to pay Meier’s law firm, Todd & Weld, $12,500 a month. The state has also set aside $30 million for Dookhan-related costs. The costs of the scandal may reach $100 million.
Martin W. Healy, chief legal counsel for the Massachusetts Bar Association referred to the “unconscionable level of gross negligence at the state drug lab.” Everybody’s outraged, now. But back then, the police were happy, the prosecutors were happy, and the drug lab bosses were happy.
The drive to convict those who have been arrested pressures the lab technicians to produce the desired results. Prosecutors are corrupted by their ambition and passion for convictions. Woe to those who stand in their way. Dookhan “was the most productive chemist” at the lab testing up to 500 samples per month while others tested 50 to 150 samples.
E-mails between Dookhan and Norfolk Assistant District Attorney George Papachristos, showing a flirtatious relationship, have led to Papachristos’ resignation. Other e-mails show Debra Payton, a Norfolk County assistant district attorney called herself a Dookhan “hog” because she was eager to get Dookhan’s help analyzing drug samples. Allison Callahan, a Suffolk assistant district attorney, praised Dookhan’s help on a big marijuana case and suggested a celebratory meeting at an upscale bar. The chemists testing the drug samples should be assigned cases randomly.
Drug lab technicians should be frequently subjected to independent, undercover, double blind testing. There should be double blind testing of chemists in every drug lab in the United States. Where are the calls for double blind testing of chemists in all the labs in Massachusetts? Crickets.