The story that’s the subject of today’s post doesn’t directly involve New Jersey but just as well could have. It also highlights the importance of never taking the state’s evidence at face value. Here it is.

Prosecutors in the Bay State aren’t having a wicked good time of it of late thanks to recent allegations that a crime lab chemist failed to follow testing protocols for drug samples and intentionally mishandled evidence in some cases. How bad is it? Sources say the chemist in question handled some 60,000 samples related to more than 34,000 drug charge cases during her nine years of employment at the lab.

In an effort to sort it all out, prosecutors and defense attorneys have agreed to start with the cases of the 1,140 people whose convictions may have been based on tainted evidence and who are still serving time in state prisons and county jails because of it. This doesn’t necessarily mean all of those convictions will be vacated, but it will be a long and tedious process.

In the meantime, thousands of others whose cases may be impacted by or may have already been impacted by potentially tainted evidence will have to wait. These include defendants who were convicted in federal court and are still serving time in federal prisons, and individuals currently scheduled to stand trial on drug charges in Massachusetts state courts.

According to reports, judges have already begun to hear bail reduction motions from criminal defense lawyers for some of the defendants waiting to be tried on drug charges in state court (in many cases, prosecutors have agreed to these motions in advance of the hearing).

Source:, “Work by Mass. lab could taint 1,100 inmates’ cases,” Mike Schneider, Sept. 25, 2012