The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts urged the state's highest court today to dismiss all of the 40,000-plus criminal cases tied to Annie Dookhan, the state chemist whose falsification of test results in drug cases led to the worst scandal to hit the criminal justice system in years.
Saying that the state had failed over the past two years to coordinate a proper response to the scandal, the civil liberties group asked a Supreme Judicial Court judge to order prosecutors to determine within 90 days whether they want to pursue individual cases. If so, the prosecutors would have six months to resolve the cases with a trial or a guilty plea.
The group also asked the judge to prohibit prosecutors from seeking tougher penalties against people who have already been convicted and sentenced but want their cases reviewed. The group said the risk of tougher punishment has intimidated defendants from filing legitimate challenges to their convictions, interfering with their constitutional right to a fair trial.