The case of chemist Sonja Farak has caught the attention of many here in Massachusetts, particularly those convicted of a crime involving drugs. Now the Supreme Judicial Court has made the right decision by having all the cases that involved Farak’s work dismissed.
An employee for a lab that tested drugs submitted by law enforcement, Farak took the drugs and altered the evidence in the lab’s computer system to cover her tracks. She did this for four years, literally invalidating the findings of thousands of cases and subsequently calling into question the validity of all the verdicts.
A solution for evidence tampering on a grand scale
Normally, a defendant would have to come into court again if there is unreliable evidence. This is done on a case-by-case basis to demonstrate that there was enough evidence or potential evidence to overturn the conviction. However, considering the magnitude of this situation, it would have led to thousands of hearings within a legal system already at capacity.
Commonwealth at fault
This was the right decision. Massachusetts owns responsibility for an agent for the commonwealth falsifying evidence for the prosecution. This may mean that some defendants go free despite other unrelated evidence of guilt, but as the Boston Herald points out, the corruption was a cancer and giving defendants the benefit of a doubt enabled the courts to remove all the cancer. Integrity of our legal system is crucial
The role of criminal defense attorneys is to protect the rights of those accused of drug crimes, DUI or other crimes. They help ensure that the defendant is treated innocent until they are proven guilty and may help clients when there is potential evidence tampering. It is always recommended that those facing changes should contact an attorney to discuss their case and options for resolving it in court or through negotiation.