Over 40,000 Cases Tainted By “Rogue Chemist”

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guset Blogger

dookhanAnnie 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.

H/T: Charles P. Pierce, David Abel, John R. Ellement and Martin Finucane, Denise Lavoie, David Abel and John R. Ellement.

54 thoughts on “Over 40,000 Cases Tainted By “Rogue Chemist””

  1. CAY,

    Please tell me more about how one mayor covered up something that lead to 3,000 folks being killed on 9-11-01? I’m interested I want to know….

  2. One mayor in Wayne County used fake rape allegations to remove his honest Police Chief because the mayor was on the take from drug dealers and untaxed cigarette pushers that ultimately covered up terrorists activities that killed over 3,000 innocent people on 9-11-01. But no one cares.

  3. “Ends” that justify the “means” mentality is a BIG problem in Wayne County, Michigan, regardless it is the polar opposite of our constitutional due process.

    Unfortunately, good FBI agents, police chiefs, police, prosecutors, lab technicians, polygraph operators, etc., produce genuine corruption with this mentality, too often due to pressure from their bosses. Even though the Frank Church Committee of Congress exposed this mentality in FBI agents as a problem in the 1970′s, this mentality is allowed to exist beyond the FBI and it continues to create corrupt outcomes because it is covered up by cronyism.

    Corruption by judges and their favored attorneys in addition to a few FBI agents, police, prosecutors, lab technicians, polygraph operators, etc.
    is a systemic problem in Wayne County, Michigan.

    Rape Test Kits sat “untested” in the Wayne County Lab, and one mayor in Wayne County used fake rape allegations to remove his honest Police Chief because the mayor was on the take from drug dealers and untaxed cigarettes pushers that ultimately covered up terrorists activities that killed over 3,000 innocent people. But no one cares.

    1. “Ends justifying the means” is the system of “governments” “Governments” are the initiators of violent threats and violence. The means of initiating violence or threats of violence is thought by decent people to be universally unacceptable.

  4. For centuries the voluntaryists/anarchists have put forth evidence that the pathological among you are most drawn to the “state/government”. It’s criminal that so many of you and your ancestors were too cowardly to face it.

  5. puzzling/Bron,

    I think you’re both underestimating how much lab work can cost. Given that most of these were probably drug cases, I’m thinking the bulk of the defendants couldn’t afford outside testing.

  6. She was doing 500 tests while others were doing 50-150 says that supervisor/s should also be shown be prosecuted. That kind of difference in “productivity” should have been noticed and questioned. At a rate of 500 per month for a total of 40,000, she was at it for years. She should have been under investigation years ago. Other heads should roll and even join her in jail. Surely it is criminal negligence to allow someone under your supervision to put innocent people in jail with falsified evidence.

  7. puzzling:

    that is an interesting question and one wonders what kind of lawyers were defending.

  8. So tens of thousands of convictions were obtained with these forensics, and not once during this period was a defendant able to independently test the evidence against him and call into question the State Lab results?

  9. Great story David. It amazes me that these testing labs were not routinely examined and re-accredited. I agree with an earlier comment that the state should have a duty to contact all former defendants about this testing lab’s crimes.

  10. I am up to my ears with people employing the word “data”. It is data this and data that. But, here, the data suggests that she do one day in jail for each false piece of data in all reports. If the data suggests forty thousand days and nights then so be the suggestion. Dog anmnDay itchBay.

  11. more collateral damage in the “war on drugs”.

    just think how many more lives can be screwed up by drug testing for food stamps or tanf.

  12. In cases like these the state should have a positive duty to notify every defendant/lawyer in every case handled by this particular technician and do so in a timely manner. The possibility of a valid appeal freeing someone convicted on bad evidence shouldn’t rest on some lawyer seeing a newspaper account. Yes, she should do time and the Prosecutor should be investigated for his role, if any, in the matter.

  13. She should do time for each time she fabricated evidence and someone went to jail. One to ten ratio would be correct. So if ten guys got ten years each then she gets one for each or ten years. The prosecutor in that town needs to be drug tested.

  14. If Congress would demand an end to false flag operations such as 9/11 and inside jobs/hoaxes such as “killing” the long-dead-at-the-time” Osama, supporting Al Qaeda terrorists in Syria etc., then the CIA’s need to be the world’s biggest drug cartel would end.

    Crimes such as the one in this article wouldn’t exist if ALL drugs were legal.

  15. ” “hardliners” on crime and campaign for office based on their “toughness” rarely support the substantial increase in funds necessary to make our criminal justice system just. ”

    And some of these hardliners seem to have the attitude that ‘we may cut a few corners but at least we are getting the bad guys off the street.’

    Inadequate lab work means that there will be false convictions. The opposite side of the coin of a false conviction is that the real perpetrator is still on the street and likely still committing crimes.

    It would seem that as a point of law that DOJ would have to notify the convicted and defense attorneys when bad lab work calls into question their conviction – not just a sample of the most egregious examples.

    It is not just that fundamental fairness and justice require that the convicted have a chance to review bad lab work. The protection of society from perpetrators still on the street demands it.

  16. “How about we legalize drug usage and stop this charade of putting people in prison?”

    The problem is that it is not just about drugs and it is not just about this lab.

    Of course, I am sure that most lab technicians are professionals who what to do a good job.

    But Even the FBI lab has had problems with basic science and pressure to tell prosecutors what they want to hear.

    We ought to assume no lab is immune from the corrosive effects of pressure.

    Double blind experiments and random selection of lab techs make a lot of sense.

  17. How many more of our public institutions must not only fail, but do so spectacularly, before none of it works any longer?

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