Shutdown of Mass. lab could jeopardize drug cases

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Associated Press

Posted on August 31, 2012 at 3:00 AM

Updated Friday, Aug 31 at 3:01 AM

BOSTON (AP) — The shutdown of a Massachusetts drug lab could be a boon to defense lawyers and their clients whose convictions were based on the actions of a chemist accused of mishandling drug evidence.

The Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Boston was closed Thursday after state police say they discovered that the chemist failed to follow testing protocols, potentially exposing thousands of drug convictions to legal challenges.

The lab was involved in certifying drug evidence in cases submitted by local police from around the state, including Boston. Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is conducting a criminal investigation. Police have not named the chemist, and she has not been charged.

Several defense lawyers said they plan to challenge the results of any drug certification performed by the chemist.

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