Last month, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard oral arguments for Bridgeman v. District Attorney for Suffolk County for the second time. Once more, the Committee for Public Counsel Services (“CPCS”) and the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) both argued that the only fair conclusion to the Dookhan drug scandal is to provide a global remedy for those convicted of drug crimes based on tainted evidence.
The Dookhan scandal first came to light in 2011. Annie Dookhan, a former drug-lab chemist, admitted to falsifying drug evidence in as many as 24,000 cases. Dookhan pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice. She served just over two years in prison before being paroled. Her actions, however, still affect the lives of thousands of people convicted of drug offenses. Even if they are out of jail, Dookhan defendants still face consequences related to their convictions.
CPCS and the ACLU aim to convince the high court to provide a “global remedy” to Dookhan defendants. A global remedy could come in the form of blanket dismissals for all drug convictions where Dookhan served as the chemist on record. The District Attorneys for the Counties of Suffolk, Essex, Bristol, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, and the Cape and the Islands argue that blanket dismissals would be too extreme. CPCS hoped for a global remedy when the case was before the court in 2015, but the ruling fell short. After one more year of litigation, the court may finally acquiesce to the proposal and offer a global remedy to Dookhan defendants.