Supreme Judicial Court Dismisses Over 21,000 Cases Affected by the Breach at the Hinton State Laboratory Institute
BOSTON, MA -- The Supreme Judicial Court announced today that 21,587 cases affected by the misconduct of chemist Annie Dookhan at the Hinton State Laboratory have been ordered dismissed.
Following the Supreme Judicial Court’s directive in Kevin Bridgeman & Others v. District Attorney for the Suffolk District & Others, 476 Mass. 298 (2017), Supreme Judicial Court Justice Frank M. Gaziano, as the Single Justice assigned to handle the case subsequent to the full court’s decision and order remanding the case to the county court, filed an order on April 19, 2017 in the clerk's office for the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County dismissing the cases that the district attorneys in the seven counties identified as appropriate for dismissal on account of that misconduct.
On March 16, 2017, the Supreme Judicial Court signed an order appointing the Honorable Margot Botsford, who retired on March 15, 2017, to serve as Special Master on the Bridgeman case to assist the Single Justice. The order of appointment is effective until August 1, 2017.
Special Master Botsford today filed a First Report of the Special Master with the Clerk for the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County.
The report outlines next steps following the dismissals, which include:
- Preparing the forms of notice and an explanation of rights to the defendants whose Dookhan drug convictions have not been dismissed as well as those whose Dookhan convictions have been dismissed
- Providing notice to the relevant Dookhan defendants by mail and other means on or before May 18, 2017;
- Maintaining an informational web page on the Massachusetts court system's website online here: http://www.mass.gov/courts/drug-lab-cases.html. This web page will include, among other items, translations of the notices to Dookhan defendants into eight languages in addition to English;
- Maintaining a hotline with the number (888) 999-2881, operated by the Committee for Public Counsel Services, Monday-Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.;
Updating Court Activity Record Information (CARI) and Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI), as well as Trial Court dockets, to properly reflect each of the dismissals of Dookhan convictions proposed by the district attorneys and ordered by the Single Justice in his April 19, 2017 order of dismissal.
The report recognizes the efforts of the seven district attorneys who, "appear to have taken extremely seriously the court’s charge in Bridgeman II to conduct a careful review of each relevant Dookhan defendant case in light of Dookhan's misconduct and the importance of integrity and fairness in our criminal justice system."
"The seven District Attorneys are to be commended for their commitment to accomplish this task in a careful and timely manner, and for the enormous amount of work that they and their staffs have done."
It further acknowledges the work of a small working group comprised of two Assistant District Attorneys from Norfolk and Middlesex Counties and two attorneys employed respectively by the Committee for Public Counsel Services and the American Civil Liberties Union who represent some of the Dookhan defendants involved in the Bridgeman litigation. The report states that this group has provided "invaluable assistance" in the ongoing efforts to implement the Supreme Judicial Court’s recent Bridgeman decision.