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A WBUR SPECIAL REPORT

BadChemistry

Annie Dookhan And The Massachusetts Drug Lab Crisis

Mass. Justice Sends Drug Lab Cases To High Court

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Anthony Benedetti, foreground, chief counsel for the Committee for Public Counsel Services, observes the single justice hearing on Wednesday. (Joe Spurr/WBUR)

Anthony Benedetti, foreground, chief counsel for the Committee for Public Counsel Services, observes the single justice hearing on Wednesday. (Joe Spurr/WBUR)

BOSTON — A justice of Massachusetts’ highest court has agreed to ask the full court to decide two cases in which prosecutors are challenging how lower courts are handling drug convictions now in jeopardy because of alleged misconduct by a chemist at a state drug-testing lab.

Annie Dookhan has pleaded not guilty to faking test results and evidence tampering.

Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett is challenging whether retired judges appointed as special magistrates to hear Dookhan cases have the authority to put sentences on hold while requests for new trials are pending.

Justice Margot Botsford said Wednesday she would ask the full court to decide the cases of two individuals. She was reluctant to have a request by defense lawyers for the court to come up with a “global solution” for thousands of connected challenges.

— The Committee for Public Counsel Services argued before Botsford on Wednesday, as well via Matthew Segal, director of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Segal explained his concerns in an in-depth interview last week:

Earlier:

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January 8, 2015

Thousands Of Drug Convictions At Stake In Massachusetts High Court Case

The case before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court involves Annie Dookhan, a drug lab chemist who was sentenced in 2013 to at least three years in prison after admitting she faked test results.

October 23, 2014

SJC To Hear Petition To Dismiss Convictions Tied To Dookhan

BOSTON — The ACLU is asking the state’s highest court to dismiss tens of thousands of criminal convictions tied to former state chemist Annie Dookhan, who admitted to tampering with evidence.

March 5, 2014

SJC Sets ‘Presumption’ Of Misconduct In Dookhan-Related Guilty Pleas

BOSTON — The Supreme Judicial Court ruled Wednesday that defendants seeking to withdraw guilty pleas because their cases were handled by disgraced former state chemist Annie Dookhan must indicate they would have insisted on a trial if they knew about her malfeasance.