Over 21,000 Drug Convictions To Be Vacated By Massachusetts Supreme Court

On April 19, 2017, The Innocence Project reports:

“This morning, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court announced that it will vacate 21,587 drug conviction cases. This is the largest dismissal of wrongful convictions in U.S. history. The decision was made in response to a massive drug-testing scandal involving Annie Dookhan—a former chemist for the Hinton State laboratory in Massachusetts—who, in 2013, was convicted of tampering with and fabricating drug tests in criminal cases.

During her more than eight-year tenure at the lab, Dookhan handled approximately 40,000 cases. She admitted to tampering with at least two dozen cases and also fabricating test results, prompting widespread concern amongst many in the defense community that any of the tens of thousands of drug tests used as evidence in approximately 20,000 conviction cases were potentially inaccurate or falsified.”

Annie Dookhan

The Massachusetts judiciary system does not have capacity to hear and rule on appeals to each individual case that Dookhan handled.  The Massachusetts Supreme Court therefore, ordered prosecutors to dismiss the cases in bulk.

According to Aljazeera, an investigation in 2013 found that Dookhan falsified test results as far back as 2004. Prosecutors said Dookhan admitted “dry labbing,” or testing only a fraction of a batch of samples, then listing them all as positive for illegal drugs. Dookhan was sentenced to three years in prison and was paroled last year.

Justice delayed is justice denied.  Some of those convicted due to Dookhan’s drug-testing scandal already served their sentences.  Others lost their jobs, their homes, and some were deported.

About 18,000 more cases are tainted.  Those are cases that were handled by former drug lab chemist in Amherst, MA, Sonja Farak.  In 2014, Farak was convicted of stealing and using drugs from the state laboratory where she worked for years.


Posted on 04/20/2017, in Cases and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Jeff Sessions is going to have an aneurysm, I can see him now screaming “Nooooo!!!!”

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Yeah Jim, he might even want to take over state rights and put all drug convictions under federal jurisdiction.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Dear Xena,

    This just makes me wonder if this could be happening elsewhere. There should be some regular auditing where test results are evaluated for accuracy.

    Barring a miracle, any reforms will not happen under the auspices of Jeff Sessions.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 3 people

  4. You’re right. Justice was denied. 3 years in prison for ruining the lives of nearly 40,000 people including the 18,000 additional tainted cases

    Ledell Lee..executed in Arkansas after being denied DNA testing on the evidence used to convict him


    Liked by 4 people

  5. Hopefully the next step is decriminalizing addiction so we can deal with it more intelligently. When I think of the many many thousands in prison for drugs, and what could have happened within a restorative Justice system that had used those resources to heal rather than punish….
    For this woman to have falsified records and ruined people’s lives – not sure what ought to be done – but maybe the maximum sentence for those she sent to prison with her actions?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Iridacea,
      The woman who falsified the records was sentenced to 3 years, and was paroled last year.

      I tend to think that law enforcement knows how the drugs are coming in, who is sending them in, and who is distributing. If huge amounts of money were not involved, America would not have an increasing drug problem now. In other words, decriminalizing drug addiction might be a very long process.


      • Sadly true. I was thinking about the Nixon era push to put pot in the hard drug class as a means of criminalizing artists and activists, and the Reagan era war on drugs actively decimating minority communities, all while using cocaine to fund the terror in Central America. Money money money.


  1. Pingback: Over 21,000 Drug Convictions To Be Vacated By Massachusetts Supreme Court — We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident | Rok The Konversation

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