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Lawyers Journal

Practice alert for criminal justice practitioners in the wake of wrongdoing at DPH Drug Lab

The Massachusetts Bar Association has been asked by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to inform the criminal bar of critical information in the wake of the news of wrongdoing by a former chemist at the Department of Public Health's Drug Laboratory at the Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Jamaica Plain.

The commonwealth has provided the Committee for Public Services, the District Attorney's Offices and the U.S. Attorney's Office, as CORI certified agencies, with access to a database of information to identify individuals whose cases potentially may have been impacted.

Such access will also be provided to the private criminal defense bar. Because the information contained in that database contains criminal offender record information and must be handled in accordance with state and federal law, any requesting attorney will be required to submit an agreement of non-disclosure of CORI form. Visit www.massbar.org/practicealerts to access the practice alert and links to the related nondisclosure form.

Any attorney who 1) handled a drug-related matter between the years of 2003 and 2012, inclusive, in which the drug analysis may have been conducted in the DPH Drug Lab; or 2) handled a matter in which the defendant's sentence may have been enhanced by a drug-related conviction based on conduct between the years of 2003 and 2012, inclusive, in which the drug analysis may have been conducted in the DPH Drug Lab, may seek access to the aforementioned database by filling out the non-disclosure form and attestation to their compliance with CORI.

Note that the DPH Drug Lab served Barnstable, Bristol, Essex, Dukes, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth and Suffolk counties. Middlesex County cases were transitioned to the State Police Crime Lab in Sudbury in two phases beginning in 2009. Ashland, Concord, Framingham, Hudson, Marlborough, Natick and Weston Police Departments began using the State Police facility for drug testing on Oct. 1, 2009.

Practitioners who intend to submit the non-disclosure and attestation form (accessed at www.massbar.org/practicealerts) should send completed forms in writing by mail or fax to:

Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security
One Ashburton Place, Room 2133
Boston, MA 02108
Attention: Michelle Goldman
Fax number: 617-727-4764

©2014 Massachusetts Bar Association