Cases

Ending the Drug War

Bridgeman v. District Attorney for Suffolk County

If you want to know whether your case was affected by the Hinton drug lab scandal involving former chemist Annie Dookhan, you can learn about your rights by calling the Dookhan Case Hotline, staffed by the Committee for Public Counsel Services, at 888-999-2881. It’s open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


UPDATE APRIL 19, 2017: After years of litigation and advocacy from the ACLU of Massachusetts, the national ACLU, the state public defender’s office and law firm Fick & Marx LLP, 21,587 drug cases tainted in the Hinton lab scandal involving Annie Dookhan have been dismissed. View the order confirming the dismissal of thousands of wrongful convictions.

This is historic: It is likely the single largest dismissal of wrongful convictions in the nation’s history.

Another scandal, involving the Amherst Lab and former chemist Sonja Farak, looms over Massachusetts. There is still no complete list of cases tainted by this scandal. Learn about our advocacy in Commonwealth v. Cotto, in which we, along with the Innocence Project, the New England Innocence Project and legal ethics experts, submitted a brief explaining that the attorney general’s office came nowhere close to fulfilling its responsibility to find and disclose the truth about Farak’s possible harm to our criminal justice system.

 

For years, state drug lab chemist Annie Dookhan was allowed to falsify and fabricate evidence, causing tens of thousands of people to be convicted of drug crimes based on tainted evidence and fraud.

The ACLU of Massachusetts, the national ACLU and the law firm Foley Hoag LLP filed Bridgeman v. District Attorney for Suffolk County on behalf of three petitioners who had been convicted of state drug charges in cases where Dookhan was the chemist. We secured an important victory in May 2015, when the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that defendants in Dookhan cases could challenge their convictions without fear of being saddled with a harsher sentence than they initially received.

In the fall of 2016, the case returned to the SJC to determine whether – five years after Dookhan was removed from her duties because of misconduct was uncovered – more than 24,000 defendants still living with the consequences of their tainted convictions should have these convictions vacated or whether the cases will be subjected to a court-imposed deadline.

Recognizing that individual litigation of 24,391 cases would be untenable, the SJC will consider whether a comprehensive solution to these cases is warranted. The ACLU was joined by the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS), which had warned the Court since 2013 that a case-by-case approach to resolving tainted Dookhan cases would be disastrous.

In September 2016, the ACLU of Massachusetts, the national ACLU, the state public defender agency (CPCS), and the law firm Fick & Marx LLP filed a brief urging the SJC to vacate the cases. The brief shows why it is impossible to resolve the Dookhan debacle through case-by-case litigation. The cases must be dismissed.

In November 2016, ACLU of Massachusetts legal director Matthew Segal and CPCS attorney Benjamin Keehn argued before the Supreme Judicial Court, regarding whether the Court would dismiss all 24,391 cases (or at least subject them to some kind of time limit).

Click here for a timeline of the drug lab scandal and litigation.

Attorneys: Matthew SegalCarlton Williams and Adriana Lafaille  (ACLU of Massachusetts); Emma Andersson (ACLU); Daniel Marx (Fick & Marx LLP)


Photo by Joe Spurr/WBUR.

 

Media

April 27, 2017
New York Times: 21,587 Reasons to Fix Forensic Science
April 27, 2017
Bay State Banner: ACLU: Lab scandals ‘inevitable’ in war on drugs
April 20, 2017
Buzzfeed: Massachusetts Just Dismissed More Than 21,000 Drug Cases Connected To Massive Lab Scandal
April 20, 2017
NPR: Massachusetts Throws Out More Than 21,000 Convictions In Drug Testing Scandal
April 20, 2017
ACLU of Massachusetts media release: Massachusetts high court order confirms the dismissal of over 21K wrongful convictions
April 19, 2017
MassLive: Cases in Annie Dookhan drug lab scandal set for dismissal, county by county
April 19, 2017
ProPublica: Crime Lab Scandal Forces Prosecutors to Disavow Thousands of Drug Convictions
April 19, 2017
Democracy Now!: Massachusetts to Throw Out 21,000 Drug Convictions After State Chemist Tampers With Evidence
April 18, 2017
Boston.com: Prosecutors move to toss more than 21,000 tainted drug cases
April 18, 2017
Washington Post: Prosecutors dismiss more than 21,500 drug cases in wake of Mass. lab chemist’s misconduct
April 18, 2017
New York Times: Chemist’s Misconduct Is Likely to Void 20,000 Massachusetts Drug Cases
April 18, 2017
ACLU of Massachusetts media release: ACLU of Massachusetts victory sets up single largest dismissal of wrongful convictions in nation’s history
April 12, 2017
Huffington Post: Massachusetts May Toss Thousands Of Convictions For Drug Test Fraud
April 06, 2017
Pacific Standard: Can Defendants Convicted by Tainted Evidence Ever Truly Be Free?
March 31, 2017
Huffington Post: 20,000 Convicted Drug Offenders’ Cases Will Get Thrown Out Thanks To This Rogue Chemist
March 29, 2017
NBC: ‘Stunning’ Drug Lab Scandal Could Overturn 23,000 Convictions
March 27, 2017
Reason: Massachusetts Prepares to Vacate Nearly 24,000 Tainted Drug Convictions
March 26, 2017
Boston Globe: DAs say Dookhan drug-tampering case nearing an end
January 26, 2017
The Fix: Massachusetts Orders Prosecutors To Review 24,000 Tainted Drug Lab Cases
January 23, 2017
ProPublica: Massachusetts Top Court Orders Prosecutors to Remedy Thousands of Tainted Drug Convictions
January 23, 2017
WBUR: Charting Resolution For Dookhan Cases, Judge Urges Cooperation
January 23, 2017
Cape Cod Times: Judge urges action in drug lab scandal
January 23, 2017
Courthouse News: Deadlines Stressed for Retrials of Drug Cases
November 23, 2016
Mass Lawyers Weekly: Editorial failed to address reality of Dookhan scandal
January 20, 2017
Washington Post: Mass. supreme court orders prosecutors to review 24,000 cases tainted by ‘rogue’ chemist
January 19, 2017
Reason: Mass. Supreme Court Orders D.A. to Vacate Cases in Massive Forensics Scandal
January 19, 2017
Salem News: SJC ruling puts DAs on the clock
January 19, 2017
Boston Herald: McGovern: Dookhan-linked convictions closer to being overturned
January 19, 2017
Courthouse News: Across-the-Board Relief in Tainted Drug Cases Rejected
January 18, 2017
Marshall Project: 24,000 Defendants Get a New Chance at Justice in Drug-Lab Scandal
January 18, 2017
Salon: Court orders compromise in drug cases tainted by lab scandal
January 18, 2017
WBUR: Mass. High Court Outlines 'Road Map' To Deal With Dookhan Drug Cases
January 18, 2017
Boston Globe: State’s highest court orders prosecutors to drop weak Dookhan cases
January 18, 2017
NECN: Court Orders Compromise in Drug Cases Tainted by Lab Scandal
January 18, 2017
Cape Cod Times: High court lays down response for tainted drug cases
January 18, 2017
Patch: Supreme Court Rules on 'Dookhan Defendants'; Numerous Tainted Cases to be Dismissed
January 18, 2017
MassLive: Mass. Supreme Judicial Court tells prosecutors to sort out Annie Dookhan drug cases
January 18, 2017
CBS: SJC Orders Compromise In Drug Cases Tainted By Lab Scandal
January 18, 2017
Fox25: SJC orders compromise in drug cases tainted by lab scandal
November 18, 2016
The Influence: Prosecutors Cynically Attack the Rights of Thousands Convicted Under Drug-Lab Tests Scandal
November 17, 2016
Lowell Sun: SJC hears arguments in rogue chemist cases
November 17, 2016
Boston Herald: State’s high court won’t tip hand in Annie Dookhan case
November 16, 2016
WGBH: A 6-Point Plan For Resolving the 24,000 Tainted 'Dookhan' Drug Cases
November 16, 2016
WGBH: SJC Weighs Tossing 24,000 Drug Cases Tainted By Dookhan Scandal
November 16, 2016
WCVB: State's highest court could throw out thousands of drug cases
November 16, 2016
NBC: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to Hear Bid to Dismiss 24,000 Drug Cases
November 16, 2016
WCVB: Court asked to toss 24,000 state drug cases
November 16, 2016
NECN: Mass. Supreme Court Hears Bid to Dismiss 24K Drug Cases
November 16, 2016
WHDH: ACLU takes convicted state chemist back to court
November 16, 2016
Boston Globe: SJC struggles with resolution to Dookhan lab scandal
November 16, 2016
CBS: SJC Hears Arguments On Fate Of 24,000 Cases Linked To Criminal Chemist
November 16, 2016
Salem News: SJC weighs request to vacate tainted drug cases
November 16, 2016
Fox25: SJC considering throwing out 24k drug cases following chemist scandal
November 16, 2016
Courthouse New Service: Court Grapples With Fallout of Falsified Drug Tests
November 16, 2016
Boston Herald: Prosecutors, defense spar in battle over 24,000 potentially tainted cases
November 16, 2016
WBUR: Mass. High Court To Consider Dismissing Cases Tied To Drug Lab Scandal
November 16, 2016
Boston Herald: McGovern: State’s high court weighs solution to Dookan mess
November 16, 2016
MassLive: SJC to weigh whether to dismiss all drug cases tainted by misconduct of chemist Annie Dookhan
November 16, 2016
WickedLocal: Lawyers argue to overturn 24,000 convictions after drug lab scandal
November 16, 2016
Boston Globe: SJC to hear arguments in Annie Dookhan crime lab scandal
November 16, 2016
Lowell Sun: State's highest court to be asked again for 'global resolution' on Dookhan cases
November 16, 2016
WCVB: Will state toss 24,000 Annie Dookhan cases?
November 13, 2016
Washington Times: Massachusetts court to hear bid to dismiss 24k drug cases
November 13, 2016
Metro: ACLU wants mass dismissal of 24,000 drug cases
November 13, 2016
Berkshire Eagle: In state's highest court, ACLU and others argue chemist's tampering with evidence should vacate 24,000 drug convictions
November 10, 2016
ProPublica: Thousands of Potentially Wrongful Convictions; Years of Delayed Action
November 05, 2016
Boston Herald: As you were saying...Dookhan defendants deserve justice
October 14, 2016
Boston Globe: SJC could bring order to drug lab scandal
September 30, 2016
Slate: Massachusetts’ Drug Problem
October 29, 2016
Washington Post: When a state’s drug chemist lies for years, should all her cases be thrown out?
August 18, 2016
Boston Herald: Court: ACLU can try to get 24,400 drug cases tossed
August 18, 2016
Boston Globe: SJC to ponder dismissal of Dookhan cases
August 18, 2016
WCVB: More than 24,000 state drug cases could be tossed
May 23, 2016
Boston Globe: Big-picture solution needed in drug lab scandals
May 06, 2016
Pacific Standard: How Can America Fix Its Crime Labs?
May 05, 2016
The Washington Post: Mass. crime chemist admits daily drug use in lab, sparking a second scandal
December 03, 2015
WGBH: The Annie Dookhan Mess: The Lingering Responsibility Of Prosecutors To Clean It Up
November 25, 2015
Boston Globe: DAs have thrown up roadblocks to justice in fallout over Dookhan case
November 12, 2015
Boston Globe: It’s time to clean up Annie Dookhan’s drug-lab mess
October 29, 2015
Slate: Crime Lab Scandals Just Keep Getting Worse
May 18, 2015
Boston Globe: SJC ruling limits charges, jail time in fallout from state drug lab scandal
May 18, 2015
AP: Massachusetts top court rules in tainted drug evidence case
January 09, 2015
Boston Globe: ACLU argues for drug-crime defendants in Annie Dookhan saga
January 09, 2015
WGBH: SJC Weighs Fate Of 'Dookhan Defendants'
January 07, 2015
Wall Street Journal: Lab Flaws Cast Doubt on Drug Convictions
March 07, 2014
Boston Globe: Tainted Dookhan drug cases require a blanket solution
March 07, 2014
Boston Herald: Time for a reckoning in lab scandal
January 10, 2014
WBUR: How Mass. Should Deal With Convictions Affected By Dookhan
January 10, 2014
ABA Journal: In wake of crime lab scandal, ACLU asks top state court for dismissal of 40,000 cases
January 09, 2014
WBUR: ACLU Asks Mass. High Court For ‘Comprehensive Remedy’ For Drug Lab Cases
January 09, 2014
Boston.com: State ACLU urges Mass. high court to dismiss all Annie Dookhan cases

Legal Documents

June 2017 Amended Declaratory JudgmentPDF
June 2017 Updated Order re: Dismissals and NoticesPDF
April 2017 Report by Special Master Botsford on Next Steps after DismissalsPDF
April 2017 Order Confirming Dismissal of Wrongful ConvictionsPDF
Jan. 2017 SJC DecisionPDF
Nov. 2016 Petitioners’ and CPCS’s Reply BriefPDF
Oct. 2016 District Attorneys' BriefPDF
Oct. 2016 NACDL and MACDL Amicus BriefPDF
Oct. 2016 NEIP Amicus BriefPDF
Oct. 2016 NAPD Amicus BriefPDF
Oct. 2016 BBA Amicus BriefPDF
Sept. 2016 Petitioners’ and CPCS’s Opening BriefPDF
Sept. 2016 O'Laughlin AffidavitPDF
Sept. 2016 Supplemental Record AppendixPDF
Sept. 2016 CPCS Emergency Motion to StayPDF
Sept. 2016 DA Response to Justice BotsfordPDF
Aug. 2016 ACLU and CPCS Response to DA NoticePDF
Aug. 2016 DA Cover Letter and NoticePDF
Aug. 2016 Reservation and ReportPDF
Aug. 2016 Villarreal AffidavitPDF
Aug. 2016 Lafaille AffidavitPDF
Aug. 2016 DA AffidavitsPDF
June 2016 Segal AffidavitPDF
June 2016 Ryan AffidavitPDF
June 2016 CPCS AffidavitsPDF
June 2016 Villarreal AffidavitPDF
June 2016 DA’s Opposition to Request for Reservation and Report Regarding Comprehensive RemedyPDF
May 2016 CPCS Motion to Modify Impoundment OrderPDF
May 2016 Petitioners' and Intervenor's Request for Reservation and Report Regarding Comprehensive Remedy for Dookhan DefendantsPDF
May 2016 Letter to Justice Botsford from ACLU and CPCSPDF
Jan. 2016 Response by Petitioners and CPCS to DA ProposalPDF
Dec. 2015 DA Proposal on Identifying & Notifying Dookhan DefendantsPDF
Nov. 2015 Request Concerning Identification and Notification of Dookhan Defendants -- with AffidavitsPDF
Nov. 2015 NACDL Letter in Support of PetitionersPDF
May 2015 SJC OpinionPDF
Jan. 2015 Bridgeman reply briefPDF
Jan. 2015 Petitioners Supplemental Record AppendixPDF
Jan. 2015 CPCS Reply BriefPDF
Dec. 2014 DA's SJC BriefPDF
Dec. 2014 Amicus Brief from Families Against Mandatory MinimumsPDF
Dec. 2014 Amicus Brief from the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys (NACDL) and Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys (MACDL)PDF
Nov. 2014 CPCS Opening BriefPDF
Nov. 2014 Petitioners' Opening Brief to the Supreme Judicial CourtPDF
Nov. 2014 Record appendixPDF
Oct. 2014 Single Justice Reservation and ReportPDF
Jan. 2014 Petitioners' Memorandum of Law in Support of PetitionPDF
Jan. 2014 PetitionPDF

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