By David Love, Atlanta Black Star
In what is being described as the largest single dismissal of wrongful criminal convictions in U.S. history, a Massachusetts court has dismissed over 21,000 drug-related cases after it was discovered that a state crime lab chemist falsified and fabricated evidence.
On April 19 in Boston, a state court judge vacated the convictions in the case of Bridgeman v. District Attorney for Suffolk County, which was filed by the ACLU of Massachusetts, the national ACLU, the state public defender’s office and law firm Fick & Marx LLP.
The drug convictions — which spanned the seven counties of Suffolk, Essex, Bristol, Middlesex, Plymouth, Norfolk and Cape & Islands — had relied on the doctored lab results of Annie Dookhan, whose misdeeds came to light in 2012 after she forged a colleague’s initials. The employee with the state Department of Public Health had lied about having a master’s degree, declared untested drug samples as positive and otherwise committed massive fraud in order to advance her career and build a reputation as an expert witness in drug trials.
In 2013, she pleaded guilty to 27 counts, including evidence tampering, perjury and obstruction of justice, and was sentenced to three to five years in prison, with two years of probation, according to The New York Times. She was recently paroled after serving three years, as UPI reported.
Dookhan’s work had impacted approximately 24,000 cases according to the ACLU of Massachusetts, with prosecutors moving to toss out 21,587 of the convictions. Out of 8,003 cases from Suffolk County, 7,886 were dismissed, as Masslive.com reported.