Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bulletin: Kate Corbett; Boston Globe reveals that the chemist related to Dookhan case has been fired for allegedly misstating her credentials; Convictions under scrutiny; Spotlight once again is put on the now-closed Hinton laboratory in Jamaica Plain. Reporters Milton Valencia and John Ellement;

STORY: "State fires chemist after probe casts doubt on credentials," by reporters Milton J. Valencia and John R. Ellement, published by the Boston Globe on November 26, 2013.

GIST:  "The drug analyst who was fired for misstating her credentials allegedly falsely testified in federal court as recently as August that she has a degree in chemistry and possibly did so in dozens of state court cases as well, opening the door for a flood of new legal challenges related to the Hinton drug lab scandal. The analyst, Kate Corbett, was fired by the State Police Friday for allegedly asserting that she holds a degree in chemistry from Merrimack College, though investigators determined that her degree is in sociology. Corbett has not been accused of tampering with evidence, a charge that led to the conviction of Annie Dookhan, the woman at the center of the lab scandal. But Corbett’s declarations in court that she is an expert with a chemistry degree could potentially derail convictions in those cases, say legal analysts, who say her testimony would be tainted. Dookhan, 36, was sentenced to 3 to 5 years in prison Friday after being convicted of, among other charges, lying about her resume in court. “It gives her [Corbett] a lot of credibility she is not entitled to,” said Stephen Weymouth, a veteran Boston defense attorney, who was speaking generally and does not have any cases related to the analyst. He said any false statements are compounded by Corbett’s connection to the now-closed Hinton laboratory in Jamaica Plain, which was run by the state Department of Public Health and has come under scrutiny for failing to follow basic standards. “That would give me concerns,” Weymouth said, adding, “I think that defendants who were convicted have nothing to lose by filing a motion for a new trial, by saying this is newly discovered evidence that taints the trial and prejudices the jury against the defendant.” Weymouth and other defense attorneys have already argued that state officials should investigate all of the work by chemists at the Hinton lab, totaling about 190,000 cases, beyond the investigation into Dookhan’s work. They are anticipating the state inspector general’s audit of the laboratory, which is slated to be released in January.

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