The vast majority of drug cases that may have been tainted by former Massachusetts state chemist Annie Dookhan will be vacated by mid-April, with just a few hundred convictions out of 24,000 remaining on the books, prosecutors tell the Boston Globe. The prosecutors have been working on a 90-day deadline issued by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to produce shortened lists of Dookhan convictions they believe must stay in place. Dookhan, who was responsible for testing drugs in about 40,000 cases from 2003 to 2012, admitted to more than two dozen charges of tampering with evidence and fabricating results. She served three years in prison.
Since Dookhan’s misconduct came to light in 2012, defense advocates have called for erasing convictions in any case she touched. They argued that the scale of her tampering made case-by-case appeals unworkable because the process would require far too many public defenders. The high court ruling pushed prosecutors toward dismissing Dookhan cases in bulk, but declined to wipe all defendants’ slates clean. The court made clear that prosecutors were to “reduce substantially” the number of defendants who might challenge their convictions because of Dookhan’s crimes. It is not the “global” dismissal defense advocates sought, but some were pleased that 95 percent or more of Dookhan cases may be vacated.