The Massachusetts criminal justice system continues to take a beating. With the continuing scandal still brewing over Annie Dookhan, another state lab worker is arrested – Sonja Farak, a chemist in the Amherst crime lab. She allegedly replaced evidence that tested positive as heroin and cocaine with counterfeit substances while taking the actual drugs for personal use.
The state’s district attorneys are trying their best to distance the incident from the ongoing Dookhan scandal, where another chemist admitted to faking the lab results in thousands of cases, including tampering with those that tested negatively so that they would test positive.
Attorney General Martha Coakley spoke with reporters and stated that she did not believe that the incidences were similar. Coakley also explained that she believed since the results were confirmed before Farak stole the evidence, the resulting convictions should not be in jeopardy.
However, some experts disagree. In the same interview, Coakley mentioned that the investigation has yet to discover how much of each drug she stole; with charges directly linked to the amount of drugs possessed, Farak’s victims may have a legal leg to stand on if no one knows how much of the drug was actually seized during their arrest.
Furthermore, the quality of Farak’s work is now suspect; in a fair and just system, alleged criminals’ fate should not be decided by known criminals. In the United States, guilt is supposed to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt; it’s naive to claim that there is no reasonable doubt in the solidarity of Farak’s work.
At this point, no jury should take any of the state’s evidence in the Commonwealth at face value. While the investigation is at a point where Coakley cannot say that justice has been served in every case that Farak was involved in, she is already defending the convictions that have been handed down as a result.
The only way to ensure that justice is served is to become the squeaky wheel. Victims’ best chance at true justice comes from the collective standing up and loudly proclaiming their support of further investigation into this matter. It’s the civic duty of every individual who believes that this incident should be thoroughly investigated to become an activist for those who are suffering from the actions of Dookhan and Farak.