BOSTON (AP) — Special court sessions are scheduled for next week to hear a flood of legal challenges by drug defendants in the wake of a scandal at a Massachusetts drug-testing lab.

Former state chemist Annie Dookhan is charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly failing to follow testing protocols and altering results at the now-closed lab.

Judge Christine McEvoy is expected to hear requests to reduce bail, put sentences on hold, withdraw guilty pleas or vacate convictions from up to 180 people who are currently serving time in county jails or state prisons in cases where Dookhan was involved in testing evidence, said Jake Wark, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley.

The sessions in Suffolk Superior Court are scheduled to begin Monday and run through Oct. 26. Similar sessions have been scheduled in various courts around the state to hear additional challenges.

Many of the hearings are expected to be conducted via videoconference from county jails and prisons. Wark said each day will be devoted to hearing cases from a specific correctional facility.

Authorities have identified about 1,140 people who are currently serving sentences in cases where Dookhan participated in testing.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.


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