MBA applauds appointment of independent investigator to examine drug lab failings

Issue December 2012 By Jennifer Rosinski

The Massachusetts Bar Association praises Gov. Deval L. Patrick for his quick action in appointing an independent investigator to undertake a broad review of the William Hinton State Drug Laboratory, a request the MBA and other groups made in October.

On Monday, Nov. 5, the governor appointed Massachusetts Inspector General Glenn A. Cunha to lead the investigation. Cunha, both a former assistant attorney general and assistant district attorney with 30 years of experience, brings a wide breadth of experience to this critical role.

"We are pleased that the governor has selected the inspector general, who has the experience and strong investigatory tools at hand to thoroughly examine the matter," said Martin W. Healy, chief legal counsel to the MBA.

The MBA, along with the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts called on Attorney General Martha M. Coakley in an Oct. 24 letter to appoint an independent investigator to examine the Jamaica Plain lab, where chemist Annie Dookhan is alledged to have mishandled the evidence in thousands of drug cases.

Coakley, on Oct. 31, asked the governor to appoint an independent investigator to review the policies, practices, and oversight at the lab. The attorney general said her office will continue to focus on the criminal investigation of Dookhan and the impact on drug cases in which she was involved.

"It is critical that all parties have unquestioned faith in that process from the beginning so that they will have full confidence in the conclusions drawn at the end," Coakley said in a statement.