Special Unit Formed To Sort Out Mass. Drug Lab Mess

Gov. Deval Patrick has announced formation of a special unit to sort through tens of thousands of criminal cases that may have been compromised by the mishandling of drug evidence in a now-closed state laboratory.

The governor on Thursday named attorney David Meier to head the so-called "boiler room" operation. Meier is a former prosecutor in Middlesex and Suffolk counties.

Patrick said in a statement that the unit will be a "clearinghouse" for information on cases impacted by the mishandling of evidence at the Boston lab, which was formerly operated by the Department of Public Health.

"Is it a challenge? Yes," Meier said. "But as the governor said, this is about getting it right. And no one’s putting a timeline on it. We’re gonna get to work tomorrow morning and I’m confident that we will get it right."

Patrick ordered the lab closed in August, less than two months after it was transferred to the control of the Massachusetts State Police.

Authorities have blamed the problems on a single chemist, Annie Dookhan, but have not said exactly what she is accused of doing or cited a possible motive.

With additional reporting by the WBUR Newsroom

This article was originally published on September 20, 2012.

This program aired on September 20, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.


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