Remedy for Tainted Massachusetts Drug Lab Cases (Dookhan) Fashioned By SJC


Massachusetts Drub Lab Scandal

The floodgates are now open to around 20,000 (twenty thousand) defendants whose convictions may have been tainted by Annie Dookhan’s corrupt, callous and criminal misconduct. On January 18, 2017 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decided the case of Bridgeman v. District Attorney for the Suffolk District, et al. SJC 12157. In Bridgeman the Court created a remedy for people whose cases may have been impacted by tainted Massachusetts drug lab conclusions. The Court adopted a protocol to be applied on a case-by-case basis more fully laid out below. The net effect will likely be the reversal and dismissal of thousands of convictions linked to Annie Dookhan’s wrongdoing.

The Parties’ Positions Before Bridgeman Was Decided

Before this case was decided the defense wanted the Court to vacate all Dookhan drug convictions with prejudice or at a minimum dismiss these cases and permit the district attorney to reprosecute within one year. If the cases were not reprosecuted than those would be dismissed as well under this recommendation. The district attorneys on the other hand asked the court to keep in place the remedies based approach to Dookhan challenges that had evolved over the four years since Annie Dookhan’s actions were revealed. Neither position was adopted in full.

The New Dookhan Case Protocol

The protocol adopted in Bridgeman is implemented in three phases. In Phase 1 the district attorney is to evaluate all Dookhan cases and move to vacate or dismiss those cases that it “would not or could not reprosecute” even if ordered to do so. Phase 2 requires the district attorney’s office to notify all those defendants whose cases are not getting vacated or dismissed under Phase 1. Phase 3 requires the public defender’s office, also known as the Committee For Public Counsel Services, to appoint attorneys to represent qualifying defendants for the purpose of investigating the viability of a motion to vacate or for a new trial under Rule 30(b). In cases where counsel is not assigned for an indigent defendant the single justice will provide a remedy that could in some instances include dismissal.

For people who are not indigent this decision strongly suggests that you hire a lawyer once you receive your Phase 2 letter. The Bridgeman language is strong. The case holds the district attorney’s offices accountable for Ms. Dookhan’s actions. This is an incredible opportunity for vindication and justice. Rarely does our jurisprudence afford aggrieved parties a global resolution with built in judicial oversight. Take advantage of this opportunity.

Massachusetts Drug Crimes Attorney Handling Dookhan Cases

Attorney Stephen Neyman has been defending the accused and protecting their constitutional rights for nearly thirty years. We have successfully represented people wronged by Annie Dookhan. No one can match our results. If you have been charged with a crime or convicted of a crime call us. We can help you. Our best contact is 617-263-6800 and you can send us an email as well. It is never too late to get a just result.