STORY: "14,800 N.J. drug cases potentially undermined after faked lab test, judge says," by reporter S.P. Sullivan published by New Jersey Advance Media on June 29, 2016. (Thanks to the phenomenal criminal justice scribe Radley Balko of 'The Watch' (Washington Post), for bringing this story to our attention,)
PHOTO CAPTION: "Assistant Attorney General Michael Williams speaks at a hearing held by Judge Edward A. Jerejian to discuss how to handle potentially hundreds of challenges to drug convictions stemming from a State Police lab technician accused of falsifying results in a marijuana case."
GIST: The number of drug cases potentially undermined by a State Police lab technician accused of fabricating test results in a single marijuana analysis is even higher than the thousands prosecutors had already identified, the judge handling the matter said Wednesday. It could be about 14,800 cases, according to Judge Edward A. Jerejian, who was appointed by the state Supreme Court to field conviction challenges stemming from the disclosure that chemist Kamalkant Shah allegedly faked a test result. The judge held a preliminary hearing in Bergen County on Wednesday to lay out the process for vetting such claims. The state Division of Criminal Justice alerted law enforcement earlier this year that Shah, who has since retired, was observed in December "dry-labbing" evidence in the marijuana case — essentially recording a positive identification without properly analyzing the sample. Shah, whose attorney declined comment, is now the subject of a criminal investigation. That single incident leaves local, county and state authorities open to challenges to the convictions of any case Shah touched during his time at the North Regional Laboratory in Little Falls. Jerejian said Wednesday that the court was "anticipating hundreds, if not thousands of cases." The judge also said that a prior tally of cases potentially affected — 7,827 where Shah was the primary examiner, 970 where he performed peer review and 1,622 cases where he conducted administrative review — was inaccurate because of "math errors" that left out some cases with multiple defendants. "The actual universe is around 14,800 cases," he said at the Wednesday hearing. The number of defendants who see their convictions overturned will likely be far lower, but neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys could say by how much. Jerejian was appointed to handle only those cases that resulted in a conviction."
The entire story can be found at:
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