SJC: Drug Lab Special Court Sessions Pass Legal Muster

The state's highest court has essentially upheld the special system in Massachusetts for releasing defendants affected by the drug lab crisis.

The ruling comes as one of the recently released drug lab defendants is charged with murder.

The Supreme Judicial Court on Friday rejected a challenge from prosecutors and found that the special court sessions reviewing thousands of potentially compromised drug lab cases pass legal muster. The court says a Superior Court judge has the authority to stay the sentences of incarcerated drug lab defendants.

Meanwhile, a Brockton man — released in the fall because the drugs in his case were tested by former state chemist Annie Dookhan — is now charged with murder. Donta Hood is accused in the fatal shooting of Charles Evans in Brockton on May 14th.

Dookhan is accused of falsifying drug tests.

Matt Segal, with the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, says most of cases affected by Dookhan involve people who are — or soon will be — released from incarceration.

"We're talking almost exclusively about people who were going to get out of prison at some point," Segal said, "and the vast majority of people affected by this scandal are already out of prison."

As many as 286 defendants have been released because of the drug lab crisis.

-- Here's the judge's ruling (via Scribd):

This program aired on May 17, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

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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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