Massachusetts High Court Throws Out Drug Cases Over State Chemist’s Misconduct

In a ruling that affects all drug cases tested at the state lab between 2009 and 2013, the Massachusetts Supreme Court concluded that former state chemist Sonja Farak’s “widespread evidence tampering” had compromised thousands of criminal drug convictions.

In 2014, Farak pleaded guilty to stealing and using drugs from the state’s lab. She was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

The state Attorney General’s office also admitted to misconduct, as two former assistant attorneys general were accused by a Hampden County Superior Court judge of withholding evidence about Farak’s activities. The office was ordered to bear the costs associated with the dismissals.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts has said that the ruling could affect at least 12,000 cases, as it applies to all convictions based on evidence tested at the Massachusetts State Crime Laboratory in Amherst between January 1, 2009, and January 18, 2013. The Supreme Court found the misconduct both “intentional” and “egregious.”

Additional Resources

Committee for Public Counsel Services v. Attorney General

Massachusetts High Court Tosses Thousands Of Tainted Drug Cases, The Huffington Post, October 12, 2018

Photo credit: / totojang1977