Thursday, October 11, 2018

The SJC weighs in on tainted drug convictions

In a sweeping ruling, the state’s highest court Thursday ordered the dismissal of thousands of drug convictions that were based on drug tests conducted at a state lab in Amherst, a ruling that was based on misconduct by a state chemist at the lab and two former assistant attorney generals.
The Supreme Judicial Court ordered the dismissals for every case that involved methampethamines during the nine years former state chemist Sonja Farak worked at the lab, as well as for every case involving drug evidence processed by anyone at the Amherst lab between Jan. 1, 2009, and Jan. 18. 2013, when she was fired.
Writing for the unanimous court, Justice Frank M. Gaziano said that Farak’s tampering with evidence samples to feed her drug habit and the subsequent failure by two former assistant attorney generals to share what they learned about Farak’s violations together warranted a fierce response by the the SJC, the ethical guardian of the state’ criminal justice system.
“We conclude that Farak’s widespread evidence tampering has compromised the integrity of thousands of drug convictions apart from those that the Commonwealth has agreed should be vacated and dismissed,’’ Justice Frank Gaziano wrote for the court. “Her misconduct, compounded by prosecutorial misconduct, requires that this court exercise its superintendence authority and vacate and dismiss all criminal convictions tainted by governmental wrongdoing.”
Gaziano added: “While dismissal with prejudice “is a remedy of last resort,” it is necessary in these circumstances.”
Between Farak and another former state chemist who tampered with drug samples at a different lab, Annie Dookhan, state prosecutors have had to throw out tens of thousands of convictions at the request of the defense bar, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Committee on Public Counsel Services.


At October 11, 2018 at 12:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

so all these drug creeps who are currently incarcerated get let out of jail free?

At October 11, 2018 at 12:15 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am curious if anyone can give me a count on how many criminal cases have been vacated in MA in the last 10 years due to illegal activity by employees of the state, either cops, judges, DAs, whatever. In addition, how many cased have been dismissed or vacated in the same time frame in neighboring states like NH, ME, VT, NY. Is this a systemic problem nationwide or just a systemic problem her in MA? Can you find this out Jim, the source of all info?

At October 11, 2018 at 1:28 PM , Blogger jim Pillsbury said...

this ruling only effects those who were charged with meth and the testing that was done. Anything she touched is in question, since she was feeding her addiction with drug samples at the lab.

Whoa there.. that's a tall ask but a valid question. I've not read about other States mistakes but will do some searching to see if this problem we have here is widespread in other States.

At October 11, 2018 at 1:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still has to be a lot of bad guys walking free even if it is only on meth and I suspect a good defense lawyer could raid the issue with any drug case this person was involved with. If they are messing with one piece of evidence and you can prove it I suspect that raises some doubt about the chain of evidence for any thing she had her hands on

At October 11, 2018 at 2:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

where the hell would you go to even get that information on if this is an issue in other states?

At October 11, 2018 at 3:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The screw up here in MA just continue to come. Being a loyal dem I would like to blame Baker but my read is this has been going on a lot longer then the 4 years he has been in charge but I can hold him accountable for not fixing this mess. Why are we not seeing heads role on all these things from state police to environmental police to drug labs to the me's office?

At October 11, 2018 at 3:37 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time to abandon ship and start fresh. Vote for Gonzalez

At October 11, 2018 at 3:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is one big f'ing quagmire and we keep sinking in deeper and deeper waiting for someone to throw us a life rope but the person with that rope is busy running for office and is just going to let the taxpayers of MA get sucked down in the mud until there is nothing left and no one left to complain


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