scorecardresearch Skip to main content

DAs have thrown up roadblocks to justice in fallout over Dookhan case

There is a legal term for Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe’s claim that, thanks “principally” to district attorneys, the Commonwealth’s drug lab crisis has been resolved (“DAs have worked to reach defendants affected by drug lab scandal,” Letters, Nov. 20). The term is “baloney.”

In reality, district attorneys have thrown up roadblocks, arguing that defendants had to serve out sentences while challenging wrongful convictions. They argued that defendants had to prove former state chemist Annie Dookhan’s misconduct in each case. And they argued that people who challenged convictions in which Dookhan’s misconduct figured could be reprosecuted and given harsher sentences. Fortunately, the state Supreme Judicial Court rejected all such arguments.

Perhaps most astonishingly, DAs have even resisted finding defendants who may have been disadvantaged by Dookhan. O’Keefe notes that attorney David Meier listed people whose samples Dookhan tested. But that list of 40,323 individuals did not match names to case information. Such matching requires other records, which Meier expected “district attorneys and/or the respective law enforcement agencies to locate.”


That didn’t happen. In fact, none of the DAs began to provide this information until the American Civil Liberties Union and Foley Hoag LLP sued two of them. Even now, there still isn’t a complete list of Dookhan’s cases.

Maybe O’Keefe is proud of district attorneys’ role. He shouldn’t be.

Rahsaan Hall
Racial Justice Program
ACLU of Massachusetts