Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

TAINTED DRUG EVIDENCE MAY BE THE CAUSE FOR 1,140 PEOPLE BEING IN JAIL OR PRISON – WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?

David Meier, a fellow former prosecutor turned criminal defense attorney, as Attorney Sam’s Take told you last week, is the lawyer placed in charge of assessing the extent of the state drug lab scandal. His findings thus far reflect that 690 people are in state prison and 450 people are in county jails or houses of correction due to evidence that may have been mishandled at the lab.

So far.

After all, he was only appointed last week. Further, as he himself points out, the first priority of the investigation was to find out who is actually incarcerated in cases which were handled in some way by what the Commonwealth wants to write off as a “rogue chemist”. Her name is Annie Dookhan. In this blog she is generally referred to as “Exchemist”.

“We are doing our human best” to expedite the process, Meier explained. “We are taking it one step at a time.”

The next step will apparently be to try to identify other people whose cases involved the taint who are still awaiting trial, people charged in federal cases, and people involved in cases that are already closed.

Meanwhile, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley continues to shout to the heavens about the horrors of some of these people being freed. As mentioned yesterday, his prosecutorial sky is falling. He warns the public that prisoners who could soon be released include, “high-level dealers, violent felons, and armed gunmen.”

Oh, yes. By the way, they apparently include innocent folks too.

Just sayin’…!

Attorney Sam’s Take On Tainted Drug Evidence

For those of you wondering what the big deal is here, let me share a bit more of the alleged admissions of Exchemist. We have previously discussed that she admitted ignoring protocols created to protect against taint and that she may have fiddled with amounts of drugs found in substances. Apparently, she has now also admitted to mixing drug samples to actually create positive results as well as increasing weights on drug samples.

In other words, Davey Drughandler who has been wasting away in prison because the jury was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that he was in possession of cocaine or heroin, or some other drug of choice, may have, in fact, not been in possession of anything illegal at all.

Therefore, if also convicted of possessing with the intent to distribute, not to mention the usual accompanying charge of doing so in a school zone, he wasn’t doing any of that either.

Now, loathe as I am to do so, let’s do some simple math.

It is estimated that Exchemist handled approximately 60,000 samples in 34,000 criminal cases in eastern Massachusetts.

“Well, Sam, how large a percentage is that?”

Well, if it matters, let’s put it this way. It is bad enough so that the Jamaica Plain lab where Exchemist worked has been closed. (Attorney Sam’s version of mathmatics)

Interestingly, after the scandal at the lab broke in late August, law enforcement officials immediately said they wanted to take steps to make sure no one was wrongly incarcerated based on tainted evidence.

Apparently, prosecutors like Conley may be changing their minds on that.

Fortunately for all of us, they are not the final word on the subject.

For the original story upon which this blog is based, please go to http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2012/09/24/judge-overturns-drug-and-gun-convictions-suffolk-case-lab-scandal-impact-widens/ZKfBSbPM6LMkncDfMNOaXM/story.html

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