Friday, October 18, 2013

Annie Dookhan. Conference to discuss change of plea and resolution to be held today (Friday October 18, 2013); Attorney General is seeking up to seven years on former state chemist's guilty plea to evidence tampering and obstruction of justice. Boston Globe story raises question whether Dookhan should be compelled to disclose cases that she remembers falsifying results for.

STORY: "Coakley takes a tough stand on Dookhan sentence," by reporters Travis Anderson and John R. Ellement, published by the Boston Globe on October 18, 2013.

PHOTO CAPTION: "Former state chemist Annie Dookhan, whose alleged mishandling of drug evidence at a state lab has cast a shadow on thousands of cases."

 GIST: "Prosecutors want former state chemist Annie Dookhan to spend up to seven years in prison for allegedly mishandling drug samples and obstructing justice in a devastating scandal that has called into question thousands of cases and marred the integrity of the criminal justice system in Massachusetts. Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office recommended in a court filing Thursday that Dookhan serve five to seven years in prison, followed by a five-year probationary term, if she decides to plead guilty to more than two dozen criminal charges. Coakley’s office filed the request in response to an order from Suffolk Superior Court Judge Carol S. Ball seeking sentencing recommendations from the prosecution and defense ahead of a conference scheduled for Friday “regarding a possible change of plea” in the case, records show. Dookhan has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which include evidence tampering and obstruction of justice. Her lawyer, Nicolas A. Gordon, provided a copy of his recommendation to the judge and planned to formally file it on Friday, a court official said. Each count of tampering with evidence and obstruction carries a sentence of up to 10 years in state prison. A single perjury count, which Dookhan also faces, carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. She is also charged with lying about her educational credentials, which is a misdemeanor and can result in up to 2½ years in county jail. Neither Gordon nor prosecutors would discuss the possibility of a plea bargain......... “I never want to advocate for anyone to go to jail,’’ said Boston lawyer Bernard Grossberg, who has represented multiple Dookhan defendants. “But the harm she has done to so many people is incalculable.’’ He said prosecutors should also recommend that Dookhan be compelled to disclose cases that she remembers falsifying test results for, and also that she identify anyone else who engaged in similar behavior. “Just giving her a prison sentence is not sufficient,” Grossberg said. “She should come clean about everything that went on at the lab. Full disclosure.’’ Dookhan’s work e-mails showed she was highly regarded, both by prosecutors and people inside the drug lab, where she processed more than twice as many drug cases as anyone else, the Globe reported in December. John Cunha, a Boston lawyer and a former president of the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said Thursday that while Dookhan’s conduct was “outrageous,” he believes she is being scapegoated. “What’s happening to the supervisors who didn’t seem to make any inquires when she was handling twice, three times as many cases as anybody else?” Cunha said. “They were happy with the convictions. And now that it’s all been revealed, they want to make her the scapegoat, so they can tell the public, ‘we took care of the rogue.’ ” Rosanna Cavallaro, a Suffolk Law professor and an evidence specialist, also alluded to apparent systemic problems in the lab. “It really suggests that there must have been some broader . . . neglect that could have allowed this to go undetected,” said Cavallaro, a former assistant attorney general who also worked in the law office of renowned defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz. At the same time, the prosecutors’ sentencing recommendation speaks to the gravity of the alleged offenses, Cavallaro said. “The punishment has to clearly signal to everyone who’s watching, and we are, that we cannot tolerate this,” she said."

The entire story can be found at:


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