I raised the issue of whether something was being done regarding the current Massachusetts drug lab fiasco other than arresting the scandal’s star performer Annie Dookhan (“Exchemist”).
Well, we know that there is an investigation going on…limited though it may be. We know that District Attorneys are sickend at folks gaining their freedom and warning the general public that the end of civilization as we’ve known it is coming.
Some of us are still waiting to see what, if anything, will be done to prevent this sort of thing from happenning again and really fixing 1/2 of the criminal justice system.
We, by the way, doubt it.
However, the court is making some changes in order to adjust to the inflow of cases which this debacle has brought.
Robert Mulligan, chief justice of the state trial court, pledged last week to use every possible resource to make sure these cases, numbering into the thousands, will be dealt with expeditiously.
A number of possibilities are being discussed. For example, the business hours of courts may need to be extended because of the sheer number of cases. This, in itself may be difficult given the fact that many trial courts have had to cut back on its clerks and other staff in terms of what hours they can be paid to be available.
There is one thing that Prosecutors and defense lawyers have in common. They are looking at a mountain of new matters as a result of this issue. Of course, there is a reality-based issue here as well. Our state government has been trying to reduce or even eradiate the number of court appointed defense attorneys.
How is that going to play out given this sudden influx?
In the meantime, both sides of attorneys have been pressing for special courts to be created to deal with these cases. These special courts arewould be established to handle the wave of criminal cases that could be reopened by the actions of Exchemist.
The precise mechanics of the special courts remain to be worked out. That includes determining which judges will hear the cases in district court and superior court in each county. And what staff will manage the courtrooms. And which attorneys might be paid to reprtesent those effected.
Well, we can deal with the inner workings and arguments about this problem which are going on behind the scenes on this problem. For now, though, let’s look at how this effects you if either you or a loved one is one of the thousands who’s lives have been effected by the drug evidence in question.
Attorney Sam’s Take On What You Can Do
Sometimes, when something of this magnitude happens in the justice system, folks think that it is such a big problem that they cannot begin to try to rectify what the justice system has brought to their lives.
After all, you can’t really fight “city hall”, right?
Wrong. Certain of us fight such places, particularly in the criminal courts, every day. We are, obviously, criminal defense attorneys. When this type of issue comes up, it is incumbant upon us to figure out how to react and how to serve our clients.
Well, those of us who care, at least.
Anyway, like other criminal justice nightmares, this mess is being dealt with by some of us already. Already you have heard of people being freed from custody who either are facing charges, have been found guilty by a jury or even have pleaded guilty.
What is already being done, although these “special courts” have not yet been created, is that courts are being petitioned to release those who have been effected. Clearly, the easiest arguments are the most direct ones. In other words, casess in which Exchemist’s name appears on the actual lab certifications. This can be either as the actual chemist or the suprervisor. The more difficult ones, of course, are not so direct. They may not be hopeless however.
Every case is different. As a result, the court is unlikely to make a sweeping gesture like holding every conviction in which Exchemist was the chemist invalid. Cases therefore have to be approached on a case-by-case basis.
We have been involved in this contraversy at its onset. In fact, the very day the story broke, I was on television being interviewed about it. The problem is a big one…but no bigger than, perhaps, the damage that has been brought to your life being convicted on faulty evidence.
Therefore, I remind you once again to retain experienced crimindal defense experts who have been defending drug and other cases in the Commonwealth for a long time.
Myself? I have only been doing it for over 20 years…!
For the original story upon which this blog is based, please go to http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2012/09/27/special-courts-hear-cases-drug-lab-scandal/ye4hm5OJQhC8AiyUm62jCP/story.html?camp=newsletter