BOSTON (SHNS) – As decisions of her two immediate predecessors are newly called into question, Attorney General Andrea Campbell said Wednesday that she hopes to resolve persistent issues stemming from last decade’s state drug lab scandal “in such a way that the next attorney general doesn’t have to continue to deal with this Hinton scandal going forward.”
Former state chemist Annie Dookhan pleaded guilty in 2013 to charges stemming from a lengthy pattern of falsifying drug analyses used as evidence in criminal cases. The Hinton State Laboratory Institute where she worked was closed in 2012 after officials found multiple protocol violations.
The scandal shook the public’s faith in the justice system and threw thousands of convictions into question. And although former Inspector General Glenn Cunha concluded in a 2014 report that Dookhan was the “sole bad actor” at the lab, court documents released last week suggest that the malfeasance ran deeper and showed that both former attorneys general Martha Coakley and Maura Healey, now governor, declined to bring criminal charges against four other lab employees referred by Cunha’s office, the Boston Globe reported.
Lawyers for four people convicted of drug offenses are seeking new trials in light of the new information and at least one is urging federal prosecutors to bring charges against officials like Cunha, Coakley, and Healey. “I’m reviewing a lot of materials that are related to that, waiting on some possible more guidance from the courts, and once I have an opportunity with my team to review all that information we will then make a recommendation and we’ll make that public once that decision has been made, and we will be transparent about how we got to that decision,” Campbell said Wednesday on WBUR’s “Radio Boston” when asked what her role in the situation is. “I will just add, the goal will be hoping to resolve it in such a way that the next attorney general doesn’t have to continue to deal with this Hinton scandal going forward.”
Between 2017 and 2019, the Supreme Judicial Court vacated the convictions of roughly 33,000 defendants whose cases intersected with Dookhan or fellow former state chemist Sonja Farak, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to tampering with evidence at the Department of Public Health laboratory in Amherst. Lawyers for about 31,000 of those defendants and then-AG Healey agreed last year to about $14 million in settlement payments.