The chemist at the center of the state drug lab scandal carried on an unauthorized, sometimes personal, e-mail and phone correspondence with a prosecutor whose drug evidence she analyzed, a violation of office protocol that may give defense attorneys even more ammunition to throw out drug convictions involving Annie Dookhan’s work.
Though State Police have concluded that Dookhan was not romantically involved with Norfolk Assistant District Attorney George Papachristos, Dookhan’s husband was suspicious. At one point, Dookhan’s husband tried repeatedly to contact a startled Papachristos, according to someone involved in the investigation, apparently out of concern that the two were having an affair.
The tone in the dozens of e-mails between the two was sometimes quite familiar, according to the person who has read them. Dookhan opened up about her life, confiding in one e-mail that she was unhappy in her marriage, though it is unclear from a printout of the e-mails whether she sent it. On another occasion, Papachristos reminded her that their relationship was strictly “professional” in response to something Dookhan wrote.
The correspondence, which dates back to 2009, was unusual enough that State Police investigating drug lab misconduct recently interviewed Papachristos about their relationship. Lab protocol calls for prosecutors to communicate through lab supervisors to avoid any question about the integrity of drug evidence, something Dookhan has acknowledged she should have done.
The American Civil Liberties Union has asked Attorney General Martha Coakley and the district attorneys to agree to throw out all drug cases “involving a police officer or prosecutor who, at any time, communicated directly with Annie Dookhan.”
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