Former assistant district attorney George Papachristos was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in relation to the drug-lab case of chemist Annie Dookhan, according to Wicked Local Weymouth. Papachristos may have been engaged In a “yearlong telephone and e-mail” exchange with the embroiled lab chemist, but his behavior was not criminal.
David Traub, a spokesman for Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey’s office said that the DA inquired of the relationship and that, “He (Papachristos) said he had been in the presence of that individual (Dookhan) once in a courthouse and in a professional setting.”
The absolution came just a week after Papachristos resigned his position so as to not be a “further distraction” from the ongoing investigation into the Hinton State Laboratory and chemist Annie Dookhan.
“There’s no allegation of criminal wrongdoing on the part of George Papachristos,” reaffirmed Morrissey. “George Papachristos communicated that he does not wish to be a further distraction from the central issue of the criminal conduct that has been alleged and the complete breakdown of supervision that allowed it to continue.”
The drama involving Dookhan spanned her nine years of employment with the state. She was bound to have contact with numerous colleagues and associates within the state court system. Her connection to Papachristos could be little more than communications between two professionals in the same circles.
“Papachristos has been nothing short of a straight shooter and upstanding professional in all of my dealings with him,” said local defense attorney Russell Matson.
Distancing himself from the investigation even after being cleared of wrongdoing is likely a smart move on his part.
Dookhan is alleged to have tested more than 60,000 drug samples during her tenure. She has admitted to falsifying test results, leading to potentially thousands of convictions and guilty pleas based on incorrect findings. The fallout and full scope of the scandal has yet to be fully understood, but there are thousands of people in jail based at least partially on evidence handled by Dookhan, which is now suspect at best.
The dollar amounts just for cleaning up the mess in criminal court are estimated to be over $50 million for the Commonwealth, which will include extra legal time, attorneys, judges, and special courts dedicated to sorting out these cases. It will be even more when inevitable civil suits begin for wrongful conviction. The president of the Massachusetts Associations of Court Appointed Attorneys could only describe it as “astronomical“.
Both prosecutors and defense lawyers are struggling to determine how best to handle the yet-unknown number of impacted cases. Court-appointed defense attorneys are already having dozens of files kicked back to them due to Dookhan’s involvement in their prosecution. And private criminal lawyers are combing through their case files for any former clients impacted.
The integrity of evidence and test results is crucial in ensuring justice, in ensuring that all cases which end in a guilty plea or a conviction actually warrant those results.
If you find yourself at the center of a drug case or any criminal charges, and you are in need of a defense attorney to help you sort through the evidence and determine your options, contact our offices today.