Court needs $13.8 more in drug lab scandal

Oct. 26, 2012 at 3:26 PM
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BOSTON, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- The Massachusetts judiciary said it will require some $13.6 million more to resolve about 136,000 criminal cases involving mishandled drug lab evidence.

A letter sent to Gov. Deval L. Patrick from Judge Robert Mulligan and Court Administrator Harry Spence said the funding would pay for 18 months of litigation related to Massachusetts Department of Public Health chemist Annie Dookhan's actions in a nine-year period.

Dookhan, 34, is accused of mishandling and manipulating drug evidence that may have helped convict hundreds of people or led them to plead guilty during a nine-year career ending with her resignation earlier this year. She pleaded not guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of falsifying her academic record, the Boston Globe reported Friday.

The request pushes the total cost for the state, in dealing with the fallout from the scandal, to more than $40 million, the newspaper said.

The Patrick administration and state Attorney General Martha Coakley initially contended Dookhan's impact was restricted to about 100 cases in Norfolk County but state police discovered at least 34,000 criminal cases, involving 60,000 drug samples, may have been tainted, the newspaper said.

The letter from Mulligan and Spense said the court will need to hire retired judges to assist with the caseload of about 5,000 extra cases in the state's Superior Court alone, as well as hiring 48 assistant clerk magistrates, case specialists and law clerks for Boston Municipal Court and other jurisdictions.

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