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Mass. Court Session Over Drug Lab Cases Marred By Confusion

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BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Confusion marred the first special court session to handle criminal cases being challenged because of the alleged mishandling of drug samples by a Massachusetts chemist.

The Friday session in Boston Municipal Court was set up to hear cases in which Annie Dookhan tested drug samples. Dookhan has been charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly skirting protocols and faking test results at a state drug lab.

Of the 18 cases heard Friday, only five involved samples tested or notarized by Dookhan. Two of those defendants were released, one on $500 bail and one without bail.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Carl Stevens reports

Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley was upset that so many cases had nothing to do with Dookhan. Conley blamed the court for rushing the process.

“They hastily put this list together without much input, without input from the district attorney or the defense bar,” he complained.

Carlos Colon, the defendant who had drugs tested by Dookhan had his case put on hold and was expected released Friday after posting $500 bail.

Colon’s attorney, Marcy Levington calls the entire situation “a mess.”

“It is going to take months for us to sort through it all. I’ve gone through 40 cases so far that have Annie Dookhan’s name on them,” Levington said.

Also, 24-year-old Michael Wells will walk after spending a year in jail based on a drug sample Dookhan handled.
In Boston Superior Court, a judge dropped Jeffrey Banks’ sentence on a drug charge. He’s still behind bars on another unrelated case.

According to the Boston Globe, district attorneys from across the state will ask Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration for $10 million a year so they can hire all the people needed to handle the potentially huge influx of cases, including prosecutors, investigators and support staff.

It’s believed that prosecutors could need upwards of $50 million and many years to handle all of the cases.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino says he is looking into federal aid money.

WBZ-TV’s Christina Hager contributed to this report.
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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