Defense lawyers say prosecutors have dragged their feet on redressing wrongs of faked lab evidence

BY PATRICK G. LEE, PROPUBLICA

In August 2012, Annie Dookhan, a veteran chemist with a Massachusetts state drug lab, admitted to contaminating samples and faking test results during her 8½-year career. More than 20,000 drug convictions, as a result, could have been flawed. Those cases involved defendants from eight different counties, and in many instances people had been sent to jail and some even deported.

The state’s prosecutors quickly assured then Gov. Deval Patrick that fixing any miscarriages of justice “must be the first priority.”

What has followed, however, has been more than four years of legal combat. Prosecutors have sought at almost every turn to preserve as many convictions as possible, while lawyers for the potentially innocent defendants have urged the state’s courts to vacate every conviction that relied on Dookhan’s tainted work.

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