After a week of various news stories about police officers behaving badly, not so long after my 3-parter about that not necessarily being an unusual exception to the rule…it seemed like this update might be rather timely.
According to Boston.com, what’s been forecasted for quite awhile is now apparently happening. The Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) has now ordered the dismissal of thousands of drug cases tainted by a former chemist who authorities say was high almost every day she worked at a state drug lab for eight years.
Yes, the old Sonja Farak (hereinafter, the “Chemist”) story again.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and Committee for Public Counsel Services (“CPCS”), the state’s public defender agency, more than 11,000 convictions in nearly 7,700 cases are being tossed. Both agencies are also asking the court to throw out thousands of other cases potentially impacted by the Chemist.
Prosecutors have also agreed to dismiss the cases tainted by the Chemist, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to stealing drugs from the lab.
The Chemist’s case is separate from another Massachusetts drug lab scandal that resulted in the dismissal of some 21,000 convictions last year. Of course, both are separate and apart from a rather infamous rogue chemist and the thousands of cases that were dismissed because of her fraudulent actions a few years ago.
There is an old saying, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” In more modern terms, I used to watch the television show Twin Peaks, which featured the quote, “It is happening again.”
Well, we haven’t and it is.
How many “bad apples” does it take to determine that the problem may not be simply “bad apples” but the fact that all the fruit is human and subject to such errors? In other words, just because a person is put onto the witness stand by the prosecution, and works for the government, that person is not clothed in credibility Teflon.
Still not clear enough?
Anybody, no matter which side depends on them in court, can be in error or, simply, be lying. Not just those called by the defense.
One of the main purposes of this blog is to educate people as to the realities of the criminal justice system. You see, a point that is often lost is that it is the general public who has the loudest voice in the system. It is they who make up the juries.
While I can rant and rave to the judges and prosecutors about this situation, it is actually important to rant to those whose only experience with the system is when called as a jury or as defendants or witnesses.
Juries, in jury trials at least, decide the credibility and the facts of a given case.
I cannot put it plainer…just because it is the Commonwealth who puts a Commonwealth employee on the stand and argues for their credibility does not make it so.
Haven’t we had enough cases of folks spending years in prison only to be let out because it turned out that those witnesses tainted the evidence? In how many of these cases did the defense argue that the evidence must have been tainted only to be virtually laughed out of court?
In the meantime, if anyone out there is looking to challenge such a drug conviction, please feel free to let us know. We handle such motions and can usually find out whether the case at issue was handled by one of these chemists.
One final note…have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend. Be careful in our present Springtime Blizzard!