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In what reporters are calling the largest mass dismissal of criminal convictions in history, the state of Massachusetts is poised to reverse over 21,000 drug convictions as a result of the 2012- 2013 drug lab scandal. While it has been over three years since the main lab chemist pleaded guilty, the state has finally succumbed to pressures from groups like the ACLU requesting to reexamine all convictions related to the drug lab scandal.
Of all the convictions related to the drug lab scandal, just over 300 cases will be retried. The state prosecutor's office selected less than two percent of the cases to re-prosecute, explaining that the most serious cases, that involve more than just evidence from that one lab, will be retried.
Drug Lab Scandals
In 2011, when other MA lab employees refused to testify under oath regarding certain test results, investigators started looking into why. Then, in 2012, it was discovered that in one Massachusetts crime lab, two employees were breaking bad in different ways. While one was getting high on the crime lab's supply (that was supposed to be tested for criminal prosecutions), another was just not doing the actual testing, and was simply fudging test results.
Drug prosecutions require prosecutors to prove that a defendant was actually caught with real drugs. To do so, expert witnesses are required to testify that the drugs actually are drugs, not just oregano, baking powder, or some other non-illegal substance. When a crime lab scandal occurs, a person convicted of a drug crime may be able to challenge, or appeal, their conviction.
While it may shock some folks that crime lab employees would steal drugs, or fake test results, it happens more often than one might expect. Prior to the MA scandal, San Francisco faced one of its own. And if you think this can only happen in liberal hubs, Texas faced its own drug lab scandal around the same time as the MA scandal was being prosecuted.
If a drug conviction against you or a loved one potentially was premised upon a drug lab embroiled in scandal, an appeal may be possible. Speaking with a qualified criminal defense and appeals attorney is highly advisable.