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Mass. High Court Is Asked To Dismiss Cases Tied To Ex-State Drug Lab Chemist

Several legal groups have filed a petition asking the highest court in Massachusetts to dismiss every case connected to a former state drug lab chemist who authorities say was high almost every day she went to work for eight years.

The state's public defender agency is a party to the petition filed Wednesday before the Supreme Judicial Court by two women whose drug possession convictions are tied to evidence handled by chemist Sonja Farak.

State chemist Sonja Farak, in an undated photo provided by the Massachusetts Attorney General's office (Attorney General's office/AP)
State chemist Sonja Farak, in an undated photo provided by the Massachusetts Attorney General's office (Attorney General's office/AP)

Farak pleaded guilty in 2014 to stealing cocaine from the state crime lab at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She worked at the lab between 2005 and 2013.

The women say the state failed to notify them of Farak's misconduct even after her conviction, depriving them of the opportunity to challenge their convictions.

In addition, the public defender agency says misconduct by two former state prosecutors demands that the SJC vacate all cases in which Farak tested the drugs.

A judge ruled in June that the assistant attorneys general withheld evidence of how long Farak was stealing and abusing drugs from the lab in Amherst.

Attorney General Maura Healey's office says it's been working to provide relief to defendants affected by Farak's misconduct.

A statement from the Committee for Public Counsel Services also cited former state chemist Annie Dookhan, who tampered with evidence while working at a Boston lab, leading to the dismissal of thousands of drug convictions.

Said CPCS Chairman Jack Cinquegrana: "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."

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

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