For those readers who don’t know who Annie Dookhan is, here is the rundown.
Recently, The Boston Globe uncovered that Dookhan, who was working at a Massachusetts state drug testing lab compromised evidence in many, many cases.
- She lied.
- She forged signatures.
- She contaminated evidence on purpose.
- She dry-labbed, meaning she would simply look at the samples instead of testing them and form a conclusion and report it out.
The scariest part about this episode is that she worked on over 60,000 cases! There is no telling how many innocent people were thrown into jail because of her fraudulent actions.
In my capacity as a forensics lawyer and the Co-Chair of the Forensic Science subdivision of the Chemistry and the law division of the American Chemical Society, I was recently interviewed for an article on the scandal which was featured on the first page of The Boston Globe.
The Annie Dookhan episode is just the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately, this type of conduct can happen in crime labs all over the country including right here in Pennsylvania. The main factors involved in these crime lab scandals are the unrelenting workloads assigned to the lab technicians and the lack of oversight and corrective action. There is little or no transparency. When you have this combination of bad practices, you are basically asking for corruption, especially in a culture that emphasizes a fast result rather than the correct result.
For more information and developments in this scandal, please follow our page on The Truth About Forensic Science: Annie Dookhan.