Upon filing a petition at the SJC that seeks relief for the thousands whose cases were tainted by Amherst Drug Lab Chemist Sonia Farak and further exacerbated by the misconduct of two assistant attorneys general, CPCS sent out the following press release:
CPCS Files Petition Seeking Relief from Convictions Tainted by Amherst Lab Chemist and the Misconduct of Two Assistant Attorneys General
(Boston) – Today the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) filed a petition in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on behalf of thousands of potential clients, requesting that the Court dismiss with prejudice every case tainted by the misconduct uncovered recently at the Amherst Drug Laboratory by chemist, Sonia Farak. This action comes after the dismissal of thousands of other convictions tainted by another state laboratory employee, Annie Dookhan.
In this current case, Farak’s misconduct is compounded by the actions of two assistant attorneys general who withheld evidence of the extent of the chemist’s misconduct and misled a superior court judge, committing a fraud on the court. Superior Court Judge Richard J. Carey found that the attorneys general “purposefully withheld exculpatory evidence about the timing and scope of Farak’s drug abuse, misled defense counsel about the evidence, and committed a fraud on the court in order to minimize the scope of the scandal.”
CPCS Chairman Jack Cinquegrana said, “Once again, the Committee is compelled to seek extraordinary relief from the Supreme Judicial Court for clients irreparably harmed by the misconduct of a state laboratory employee, this time compounded by the fraud on the court committed by assistant attorneys general.”
“We are asking for this remedy for the sake of our clients and to deter prosecutors from ignoring their duty to disclose evidence favorable to the accused in the future,” added CPCS Chief Counsel Anthony Benedetti.”
CPCS Attorney Rebecca Jacobstein, one of the attorneys representing CPCS stated, “Unfortunately, this outrageous prosecutorial misconduct resulted in people spending time in jail they would otherwise not have had the Commonwealth complied with its constitutional obligation to turn over all of the exculpatory evidence in its possession. These people do not get that time back. Dismissal with prejudice may be the strongest remedy there is, but it is not enough because it doesn’t make them whole.”
Joining Atty. Jacobstein in representing the agency is CPCS Attorney Ben Keehn who said, “Thousands of people, mostly poor, mostly of color, and many afflicted by the medical disease of drug addiction, have been harmed by the Amherst drug lab fiasco. I fear that perversions of justice like this will continue unless and until we as a Commonwealth renounce the criminalizing of drug addiction.”
The Hampden County Lawyers for Justice and two individuals affected by the misconduct are also petitioners in the case and are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (ACLUM) and the law firm of Fick & Marx, LLP.
Below, please find several articles regarding this issue: