In its first detailed tally of the impact of the drug lab controversy, the state’s judiciary said it needs $8.72 million to deal with legal challenges to as many as 136,000 criminal cases in which evidence was allegedly mishandled by a state drug lab chemist.
In a letter sent to the Patrick administration Wednesday, Judge Robert Mulligan, the top judge for administration, and Court Administrator Harry Spence said the funds would pay for 18 months of litigation related to chemist Annie Dookhan’s actions over nine years working for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
The request pushes to more than $35 million the total cost sought so far for the state to deal with the fallout of the Dookhan scandal.
“The influx of drug lab cases will be extremely detrimental to meeting our clearance rate goals and disposing of cases within their time frame metrics,” Mulligan said in a statement released to the Globe Thursday.
The judiciary has already set up drug lab sessions in courthouses across the state. In its letter, the judiciary said it will need to hire retired judges to assist with the caseload, which could total 5,000 in superior court alone during the next 18 months.
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