Supreme Judicial Court questions whether to provide a blanket dismissal to the 24,000 convictions in which Dookhan was involved

The Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts is grappling whether a blanket dismissal its warranted for all of the approximately 24,000 convictions in which former drug chemist Annie Dookhan was involved. Defense attorneys, joined by attorneys from the ACLU of Massachusetts, argued that remedies for potentially affected defendants have been slow and ineffective. Additionally, evaluating each of the 24,000 cases would require resources and legal assistance that is likely unavailable. Assistant district attorney Susanne M. O’Neil argued that the court should allow the cases to work their way through the appeals system, asserting that the court should not “just dismiss cases because it’s hard.” Further, she said that the district attorneys are willing to put in the work to sort through each of the cases. Prosecutors also argued that in some cases a defendant could still be convicted based on other evidence and therefore there should not be a dismissal of cases unless the cases are reviewed individually. Additionally, lawyers and justices questioned whether there would be a different standard had there been, for instance, 40 tainted cases, rather than 24,000 and how long is too long for defendants to wait for a remedy. Meanwhile, convicted defendants continue to face the consequences of their potentially illegitimate convictions as many face deportation hearings, loss of housing, and other secondary consequences of having a conviction on one’s record.

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  1. I agree!

    How strange that the story behind this debacle seems to be left out. Are the DA’s circling the wagon? “Chemists aren’t supposed to be doing favors on a case-by-case basis for a particular police officer or prosecutor.”
    This was brought to light because of the inappropriate contact between an ADA and Dookhan at the Norfolk County DA’s office.
    The sad thing is that the only reason this is not still occurring is that Dookhan broke down and confessed to her own actions. No one caught it for years. Appropriate procedures were not implemented and followed to prevent this from happening. The system is broken. Will it be fixed?
    Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey admitted that he had seen only a few e-mails, and he had refused ­repeated efforts by investigators to provide him with copies of the rest of the correspondence, because he said they are “the subject of an ongoing investigation. “I don’t want to interfere.”
    Several state officials and prosecutors expressed confusion over Morrissey’s refusal to accept the e-mails, noting that he should know if one of his subordinates had an inappropriate relationship that could jeopardize cases in his office.
    Dookhan appeared to be doing a favor for Norfolk law enforcement officials when she was caught in June 2011 taking evidence from 60 Norfolk drug cases out of a storage area without authorization.
    The Norfolk County prosecutor who carried on an unusual and sometimes personal e-mail correspondence with controversial state chemist Annie Dookhan abruptly resigned. Morrissey. stated“He doesn’t want to be that distraction. He wants the criminal justice system to work appropriately. The two of us came to the same conclusion. He offered his resignation, and I accepted.”

    So Dookhan gets punished and the DA and ADA of Norfolk County have no accountability. These same prosecutors have maintained that most of Dookhan’s defendants are not interested in opening “a closed chapter in their lives.”
    I guess it was that easy to “close that chapter of being inappropriate”” for the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office ~~~~move along , nothing to see here.


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