Wrongful Arrests: People Are Still Waiting For Justice in Drug Lab Scandal

John L. Calcagni III
wrongful arrests

When you find yourself in trouble with the law, your future is in the hands of the legal system. You and your family put your trust into the system, believing that you will get fair treatment and a just trial. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. There are several examples of the legal system failing people, and Massachusetts has a prime example. In a major scandal, one employee of a state lab falsified drug tests. As a result, she tainted evidence for many trials. When the court found out about the tainted evidence, they were slow to act. Find out the whole story behind many wrongful arrests.

The Story Behind the Wrongful Arrests

Sonja Farak was a chemist at a drug lab that processed evidence for court cases. Working at Amherst Drug Lab, Farak fed her addiction to narcotics. There were no safeguards or audits in place, which made it possible for her to get away with the tampering. At first, people believed that Farak only committed the tampering for the short-term. However, she may have committed the crime for much longer. With a lack of safeguards, she could have tampered with evidence in thousands of cases. As a result, it’s likely that the police made many wrongful arrests.

But the wrongful arrests were only one of the problems with this situation. The major issue is the withholding of evidence. Former assistant attorneys general Kris Foster and Anne Kaczmarek knew that Farak tampered with evidence for longer than everyone else thought. Instead of coming forth with the information, they hid it. In doing so, they prevented many convicted individuals from getting a chance to appeal their convictions.

Perhaps as upsetting as the withholding of evidence is the lack of action to remedy the situation. Officials have taken far too long to find justice for those who faced wrongful arrests and convictions.

The Delay of Justice

Once information came out about the tampering, something needed to be done. Farak’s tampering affected thousands of cases, and that meant injustice for many people. To distribute justice, a team needs to review all the cases that could have been affected by her actions. Then, the court could reverse and wrongful convictions and dismiss and current cases. But that takes time and money. Unwilling to provide the money needed for the project, the state has seen very little progress.

The state has made a four-year long inquiry into this matter. But in those four years, there has been very little progress. There are many defendants who had no idea that they challenge their case. While prosecutors are in the process of reviewing eligible cases, it’s a difficult process. With their limited resources, they can’t get through the cases quickly enough. They have made some progress, but not enough.

It’s not the first time that something like this happened. In a Jamaica Plain state lab, one chemist tampered with evidence. After his arrest and conviction, the Supreme Judicial Court of the state dismissed about 20,000 cases. The victims of the tampering found justice and found it quickly.

Demanding justice

People are not staying silent about the unnecessary delay of justice. In a long brief written in the spring of 2017, the ACLU and several other organizations demanded justice. They asked that the court takes a closer look at the situation. Specifically, they want the Massachusetts Office of Bar Counsel to examine the stories of the prosecutors who withheld evidence. Both of them are still involved in working for the state. In doing so, people could better understand the extent of the tampering.

In speaking up for all of those who faced wrongful arrests, it’s possible that these organizations could expedite justice. Evidence tampering is an offense that can have serious consequences on innocent people. It’s time that the state of Massachusetts starts to take that seriously.

Defending Those who Face Wrongful Arrests

When you take a close look at some of the biggest scandals in our legal system, one thing becomes clear. People who face criminal charges need help. Without the help of a layer, you leave yourself vulnerable to the imperfections of the system.

The drug lab scandal is a reminder that there is injustice in the world. In fact, injustice happened on many levels. It started with the lab worker and manifested itself in the form of a government unwilling to fund a search for justice. While it’s true that mistakes happen, mistakes can come at a major cost. In this case, it comes at the cost of freedom.

The legal system can be unpredictable. But there is hope, and there is help. If you find a lawyer with experience, you can take on the system. Your lawyer can make sure that you don’t become a victim of injustice. And they can help you get a good outcome for your situation.