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August 17, 2013

January trial set for state chemist

BOSTON (AP) — The former state chemist accused of tampering with evidence in drug cases has a trial date.

A judge yesterday in Boston scheduled a Jan. 6 trial date for Annie Dookhan, whose prosecution sent ripples through Massachusetts’ criminal justice system. The trial will cover charges she faces out of Boston that were part of a 27-count indictment last year.

The 35-year-old Franklin resident previously pleaded not guilty to charges including obstruction of justice and perjury stemming from cases in six counties.

Authorities have said Dookhan tested more than 60,000 drug samples involving 34,000 defendants at Hinton state lab. State police closed the lab last summer, months after Dookhan’s resignation during an internal probe by public health officials.

At least 337 state prison inmates have been released as a result of Dookhan’s case, a spokesman for the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security said Friday.

Dookhan left Suffolk County Superior Court without commenting yesterday. She is due back in court in Boston in October.

Authorities have set up special “drug lab” court sessions to try to manage fallout from the scandal.

Last month, Massachusetts’ highest court decided that special magistrates who are handling tainted cases can’t release convicts on bail before they’re granted new trials, but that Superior Court judges have the power to do that after the magistrates make recommendations.

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