1st Boston Session For Drug Cases Marred By Confusion

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If Friday's unprecedented special Boston Municipal Court session is any indicator, the mess left in the wake of the state drug lab scandal is going to take a long time to clean up — and there may be a lot of fighting about it along the way.

Only five of the 19 inmates called to the session Friday actually have cases that are directly linked to Annie Dookhan, the chemist charged with falsifying drug evidence.

Two of the inmates were released on $500 bail.

Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley called the process an embarrassment and criticized officials for bringing so many inmates into court, only to send them back to jail. Conley urged those reviewing cases affected by the scandal to slow down.

"The information that we have at this point is not very good,” Conley said. “That's why these lists are being refined. We have 19 defendants at this point and my prosecutors tell me that a sizable number of them will not be related to Annie Dookhan at all."

But some of the defense attorneys involved, like Richard Noone, say even if their clients' cases are not directly related to tests done by Dookhan, the special counsel reviewing the scandal identified their client for some reason, so they’re taking a closer look.

"There are allegations that she falsified signatures, so it requires further investigation for sure," Noone said.

Meantime, in Suffolk Superior Court Friday, a drug case was dismissed against Jeffrey Banks because the cocaine he was charged with possessing was tested by Dookhan. A second test showed it was not cocaine. But Banks was sent back to jail in an unrelated case.

Also Friday, an inmate released last month who then didn't show up for a court appearance this week was arrested in Quincy. Marcus Pixley, who has previous drug convictions and a rape conviction, is now charged with being a fugitive from justice and is being held on $2,000 bail. His attorney says Pixley is being used to frighten the public.

Noone says everyone involved in these cases is going to have to work together, probably for a long time to come.

"All sides — the district attorneys, the defense bar, the Judiciary, the court system — are trying to sort out this mess that's been created by this person," he said.

Conley estimates that as many as 500 inmates could be released in Boston alone.

District attorneys across the state are expected to ask for $10 million a year to hire the staff necessary to deal with the thousands of cases affected by the scandal.

This article was originally published on October 05, 2012.

This program aired on October 5, 2012.

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Deborah Becker Host/Reporter
Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR. Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.



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