Annals of Prosecutorial Accountability

The Washington Post reports on an additional 8,000 Massachusetts criminal convictions to be dismissed because they were based on analysis by lab chemist Sonja Farak, who was both testing and consuming drugs seized by the police for eight years. This follows  21,500 drug convictions erased earlier in 2017 because of the actions of lab chemist Annie Dookhan, who admitted contaminating, falsifying or not testing drugs in her Boston-area lab over eight years. Two prosecutors handling those cases, Anne Kaczmarek and Kris Foster, were found to have withheld evidence that showed that Farak’s drug-fueled escapades, including cooking and smoking drugs in the state lab in Amherst, Mass., had lasted for eight years, not six months as they initially claimed. The attorney general’s office prosecuted Farak after she was arrested in January 2013 — and Farak pleaded guilty in January 2014 — but Kaczmarek and Foster repeatedly refused to provide either prosecutors or defense attorneys with Farak’s own notes and records showing she had been in drug treatment for years.

The judge in the Farak case concluded earlier this year that the two prosecutors committed “intentional, repeated, prolonged and deceptive withholding of evidence from the defendants” and that “their misconduct evinces a depth of deceptiveness that constitutes a fraud upon the court.” Their punishment: “The two prosecutors, former assistant attorneys general Anne Kaczmarek and Kris Foster, have since moved on to higher-paying jobs elsewhere in the state government.”

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