Court Tosses Case Involving Disgraced Chemist, Says Drug Field Test Isn't Enough

The Massachusetts appeals court is throwing out the verdict of a man convicted in a drug case involving disgraced state chemist Annie Dookhan.

More than 20,000 cases involving so-called "Dookhan defendants" have already been dismissed after she admitted to tampering with samples she was supposed to be testing.

But in this case, the Suffolk County District Attorney's office argued that the field test performed by Boston police should suffice. An officer tested the drugs found in Juan Carlos Rodriguez's house in 2009 and found they were positive for heroin — before they got to Dookhan for testing.

"It was heroin on that day, and it is heroin today," the prosecutor told the court during Rodriguez's trial.

Prosecutors added that there was no evidence Dookhan meddled with the drugs.

The trial judge let the field test evidence in, but the appeals court said in a ruling Tuesday that the field test alone wasn't scientifically valid enough, and ordered Rodriguez's conviction vacated.

In 2013, Dookhan admitted to falsifying thousands of drug tests while working for the Department of Public Health's Hinton drug lab. She spent three years in prison.



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