Our legal director Matt Segal spoke to The Washington Post following developments in the separate cases of Sonja Farak and Annie Dookhan, chemists at two criminal drug labs whose misconduct has left thousands of cases in question across the state.
“It’s just horrible,” said Matthew Segal of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which has been fighting Massachusetts prosecutors for almost four years to learn the names of all those affected by Dookhan’s misconduct, and is hoping to get the list next week. “This is why it’s not just about two chemists, it’s about an entire system that allowed this to happen, and once it did happen didn’t take steps to remedy it.” ...
The Massachusetts Attorney General's Office asserted that there will be a group effort on behalf of the DAs, defense bar, and courts to determine the scope of cases impacted by Farak's misconduct and inform those involved.
But that has proved massively difficult in the Dookhan case, Segal said, forcing the ACLU to file a lawsuit in 2014, and wait until 2016 to find out from county prosecutors how many cases involved that tainted chemist. Segal said the attorney general should step in and seek justice in both cases.
“The Attorney General’s Office is the people’s law office,” Segal said, “and the Attorney General has spoken eloquently about how drug abuse should be treated as a public health matter. Now there is powerful evidence that treating drug abuse as a criminal matter has resulted in egregious misconduct that deprived thousands of people of due process. How can the people’s law office have nothing to say about that?
Various district attorneys told the Globe they had hundreds or even thousands of cases involving Farak. But Ryan said he was not aware of any defendants who had received notice that their case might be worthy of reconsideration. Segal said in the Dookhan case, an assistant district attorney testified that “prosecutors have no obligation to notify Dookhan defendants that their convictions might have been obtained with evidence falsified by a government employee,” though a list is scheduled to be produced Monday.