News Releases
April 19, 2017

Boston Bar Association Applauds Dismissal of Approximately 20,000 Tainted Drug Cases

Press Release

“Today, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts brought long-awaited closure to nearly 20,000 people impacted by the actions of Annie Dookhan, disgraced former drug-lab chemist,” said BBA President Carol Starkey of Conn Kavanaugh. “We thank the District Attorneys for their recognition that a different course of action, more than five years after the scandal first came to light, is necessary to protect the fairness and integrity of our criminal justice system.”

BBA Amicus Committee co-chairs Anthony Scibelli of Barclay Damon and Elizabeth Ritvo of Brown Rudnick, who co-authored the BBA amicus brief filed in support of dismissing the tainted cases, said: “Our brief argued that the burden should rest with the Commonwealth to show that these adverse dispositions should stand. The Court agreed with that assessment, calling on the District Attorneys to exercise their discretion to vacate and dismiss with prejudice as many Dookhan cases as possible to ‘substantially reduce the number of relevant Dookhan defendants.'”

The BBA’s amicus brief urged the Commonwealth’s highest court to vacate all outstanding drug convictions among the more than 21,000 cases in which disgraced drug-lab employee Annie Dookhan was the primary or secondary chemist. This follows on the findings and recommendations of our 2014 Drug Lab Crisis Task Force Report which called for the prompt resolution of open criminal cases related to Dookhan’s misconduct as well as increased and improved oversight of drug labs.

“For far too long, thousands of Massachusetts residents have lived under a cloud created by the misconduct of a rogue state employee, carrying a criminal record that may have prevented them from securing jobs, housing, benefits, and even legal immigration status,” continued Starkey. “Today’s actions lift that cloud and allow the Dookhan defendants to move forward.”

Read more about the Bridgeman case and our brief in our Issue Spot blog post: BBA Amicus Advocates for Resolution in Dookhan Scandal .