BOSTON (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) A Massachusetts defense attorney is sharing what she feels are the massive repercussions of an investigation into a state lab chemist's alleged mishandling of drug samples.
Kathleen Lucey spoke to FOX 25 on Saturday. Lucey is a former prosecutor and currently works as a defense attorney.
One of Lucey's clients, Mylazia Johnson, was released more than one year early from her prison sentence on a three-year drug conviction on the same day that chemist Annie Dookhan was arraigned. Johnson was released on Friday because Dookhan did not properly document her role in analyzing evidence against Johnson.
In another Boston court room, Dookhan was arraigned on two counts of obstruction of justice. Officials believe more charges could be filed against the 34-year-old.
Authorities say Dookhan was listed as the primary or secondary chemist on the cases of more than 1,100 inmates currently serving time.
Lucey says the repercussions for inmates impacted by potentially false results are so deep that one could spend days on end thinking about them.
"You could sit and think about it every day - all day because when you start at the small level of the individual person who is sitting in jail wondering whether Annie Dookhan did their lab test or not that has a profound impact on an individual family," says Lucey.
Lucey points out the consequences that many inmates face after being incarcerated on a lab result that may or may not be false. She says that some have lost their parental rights, public subsidized housing, or an educational grant as a result of their incarceration.
The former prosecutor also says the drug lab scandal may have a profound, nationwide impact on the public's confidence in lab testing. She estimates that 90-percent of cases involve some sort of lab result whether it is DNA, fingerprints, or drug testing. The jury must be confident beyond a reasonable doubt in the lab tests.
Lucey says if Dookhan could mishandle drug samples at a lab table for years without anyone noticing, then how could anyone be sure beyond a reasonable doubt that the internal controls are there to ensure that lab results are correct?
"I can tell you I know personally how dedicated and incredibly smart and incredibly knowledgeable the lab people are I know that firsthand and my confidence is shaken," says Lucey. "So I can't believe it wouldn't be shaken for everyone else, I think nationwide because lab tests were never something we questioned before. We never questioned the science and now we're finding out it's really about people."