BOSTON, March 5, 2014—Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley today delivered the following statement on the Supreme Judicial Court’s decisions in Commonwealth v. Rakim D. Scott and five other cases:
“The SJC wisely reversed lower court rulings allowing defendants who pleaded guilty on Hinton Lab drug cases to withdraw their pleas automatically. Consistent with the Inspector General’s recent findings, it also drew a bright line between Annie Dookhan’s cases and all other cases from the Hinton Lab. Moreover, it validated our careful, methodical, case-by-case approach to this crisis.
“Cases with drug evidence certified by Annie Dookhan may now be brought forward with motions for new trials. In the great majority of the Dookhan cases, the drug evidence still exists. It can be retested, and if there is to be a new trial, then we can bring that evidence before a jury. In all other cases, the defendants’ guilty pleas are binding unless some other issue arises.
“Crucial to the outcome of those Dookhan cases, according to the SJC’s ruling, is whether the defendant in cases in which she participated in the analysis would have pleaded guilty knowing what they knows now about her malfeasance in a limited number of cases. Many defendants, we believe, would still have pleaded guilty, and not just in exchange for a reduction in sentencing. The evidence in a drug case is almost never limited just to the drugs: there’s packaging, cutting agents, baggies, cash, phone calls and text messages, and the defendant’s actions before, during, and after the seizure of drug evidence. Others may not have pleaded guilty. But prosecutors and defense attorneys all know that every single jury to consider this evidence against a general claim that the Hinton Lab’s practices were unreliable has voted unanimously to convict.
“As we work with police, chemists, defense counsel, and the Trial Court in the weeks and months to come, we will continue our efforts to ensure justice for each defendant, reduce the risk to public safety, and minimize the cost to taxpayers.”
All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.