SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

October 6, 2012

DA: 300-500 defendants face release in lab scandal

(Continued)

“He’s exactly that kind of person that needs to be heard today,” defense attorney Jennifer Saunders told Judge Mary Ann Driscoll.

Saunders said Wells was accepted to Le Cordon Bleu culinary school and has a young daughter and fiancee. He was released on personal recognizance and must adhere to a curfew.

Colon, 21, who had a drug distribution conviction in 2011, was released on $500 bail and a curfew.

Three other defendants with cases related to Dookhan were not released while attorneys continue gathering information or because they are serving time for other sentences.

Of the 18 cases heard yestyerday, only five actually involved Dookhan.

Conley said court officials “hastily” compiled the list of defendants brought in for hearings without input from prosecutors or defense attorneys.

“What is going on here today is taking away from our real work that we have to do to identify who really was affected,” Conley said during a break.

Most defendants were in custody at South Bay House of Correction and brought into court one by one when their names were called.

“You have these poor folks, they did their time, they’re doing their time, they admitted to what they’ve done, and they have to be traipsed in here in handcuffs and prison garb ... all of these not related to Annie Dookhan,” Conley said. “I think this court also has to be embarrassed.”

Asked about public safety in light of the release of inmates, Gov. Deval Patrick said freeing them is not a “technicality.”

“We are talking about people who shouldn’t have been convicted and who need to have justice done in their cases,” he said.

“In terms of people who have other charges or records, there’s a process for that, there’s a system for that and there’s public safety officials who have responsibility for that,” he added.

Patrick said it was too early to estimate how much the state would spend to address the crisis.

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