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Patrick Administration Announces Completion of Review of Individuals Potentially Impacted by Failures of Former DPH Forensic Drug Lab

Press Release

Location: Boston, MA

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - The Patrick Administration today announced that David Meier has completed his review of all cases potentially impacted by a breach of protocol at the former Department of Public Health (DPH) Forensic Drug Laboratory, and has compiled a comprehensive list of individuals who may have been impacted by the breach. Meier's review and the master list will provide criminal justice and law enforcement agencies the information they need to deliver justice to those impacted while upholding public safety.

"For his thoroughness and his utter commitment to the fair administration of justice, the entire Commonwealth owes David a debt of gratitude," said Governor Deval Patrick. " Now, with this detailed information, the many participants in the criminal justice system can do the work of getting each individual case right."

As soon as the issues at the former DPH Forensic Drug Laboratory were first identified in August 2012, Governor Deval Patrick took several corrective action steps guided by the following principles: (1) ensure a breach like this never happens again; (2) ensure that the extent of the breach of protocol was limited to this investigation alone; and (3) ensure that Meier and his team have identified all persons potentially impacted by chemist Annie Dookhan's alleged misconduct. These steps included ordering the lab's immediate closure, accepting the resignation of the lab's bureau chief, terminating the lab's division director and ordering disciplinary proceedings to begin against the lab supervisor. Working alongside district attorneys and defense counsel, the Governor proposed the creation of a central office to expedite the identification of individuals whose cases involved evidence potentially mishandled by Dookhan. Meier has led that office since October 2012. The Governor also called for a thorough, independent review of the lab's functions to ensure that the issues identified at the former DPH Forensic Drug Laboratory were isolated to Dookhan's actions alone. That ongoing review is being led by Inspector General (IG) Glenn Cunha.

Meier began his review by focusing on a master list compiled by DPH that flagged approximately 37,500 individuals whose drug samples were tested by Dookhan as either the primary or secondary chemist. He coordinated with district attorneys, the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the court system and various other agencies within the criminal justice system to further develop data and information regarding the individuals on that master list. By December 2012, Meier and his team had identified approximately 10,000 individuals whose cases should be prioritized. The prioritized individuals were those who were then incarcerated, on probation, on parole, had previously been convicted of a drug offense in the Superior Court, or were otherwise most severely impacted by the alleged conduct of chemist Dookhan.

In January 2013, Meier and his team then undertook a file-by-file review of certain lab documents to ensure that each person potentially affected by Dookhan had been identified and included on the master list. That review, which included an electronic analysis of over three (3) million lab documents, is now complete, and approximately 2,800 additional names have been identified, bringing the total number of individuals potentially affected to 40,323.

Meier has now partnered with Navigant, an outside document storage vendor, to create an electronic version of the master list. That information will be easily searchable and made available to district attorneys, the defense bar, the courts and other appropriate agencies so they have access to the most accurate information in their review of cases.

Meier is in the process of meeting with the District Attorneys, the Committee for Public Counsel Services, private defense bar, court Chief Justices, and other criminal justice officials to discuss how they can best use the information contained in the master list to ensure that justice is delivered to each individual potentially impacted.

The Patrick Administration remains committed to bringing justice to each individual potentially impacted by the failures at the Hinton Laboratory while maintaining the utmost public safety in communities across the Commonwealth.

In keeping with this commitment, Byron Knight has joined the Administration as special counsel to assist in providing discovery and overseeing the Administration's coordination with all parties affected by this breach. Knight has over fourteen years of criminal justice background working as an investigator and more recently as prosecutor in the Major Felony Unit both in the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office. To date Knight has provided over 4,300 documents and nearly 11,000 pages of criminal discovery to District Attorneys and defense attorneys in the cases potentially impacted by Dookhan. He is also coordinating with the IG's team to provide necessary information to expedite the overall review of the lab's functions and procedures.

The Governor will continue to receive updates from Meier, in an advisory capacity, and from Knight, and will remain in contact with all stakeholders until each individual case is reviewed, accountability is assigned and the integrity of the lab's work is secured.

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