Massachusetts prosecutors will dismiss more than 6,000 convictions tied to a former chemist who authorities say was high almost every day she worked at a state drug lab for eight years, reports the Associated Press. The move comes months after the American Civil Liberties Union and the state’s public defender agency asked the state’s highest court to throw out the cases tainted by Sonja Farak, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to stealing drugs from the state crime lab at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and tampering with evidence. “Dismissal vindicates the rights of our clients to due process and fair prosecution and restores the integrity to the justice system by sending a clear message to prosecutors that no conviction will be allowed to stand in the face of such fraud,” said Randy Gioia of the Center for Public Counsel Services.
It is the second time in less than a year that prosecutors have been forced to throw out thousands of cases due to misconduct by drug lab chemists. More than 20,000 convictions were tossed in April after chemist Annie Dookhan was caught tampering with evidence and falsifying tests. The total number of Farak’s cases that will be dismissed could grow, because several prosecutors haven’t provided numbers to the Supreme Judicial Court. Most of them are low-level drug cases and officials say they’re not aware of anyone who’s still behind bars as a result of a tainted conviction.