Legal defense and civil rights groups are applauding a move to take the investigation of the State Drug Lab scandal out of the Attorney General's hands.
The state's top law enforcement official, Attorney General Martha Coakley, has agreed to a plan for an independent investigator to take over a probe of the wider effects and root causes of the scandal at the shuttered State Drug Lab in JP, according to several media sources.
Coakley will continue the more narrow criminal probe against so-called "rogue chemist" Annie Dookhan, however. Dookhan is the chemist accused of tainting evidence in 34,000 or more drug cases. Her alleged actions have already sent dozens of convicted drug dealers back onto Bay State streets.
Critics had called on Coakley to step down from the wider investigation, citing the role her office plays in supporting the prosecution of drug cases. Carol Rose with the American Civil Liberties Union in Massachusetts praised the move in a Globe blog post.
But however unimpeachable the Office of the Attorney General, to expedite an incontrovertible resolution to this crisis and fully restore public confidence in our criminal justice system, this investigation must be--and must be seen to be--independent, credible, and beyond reproach.
The news comes as the high monetary cost of the scandal becomes clearer. State officials this week called for creation of a $30 million fund to deal with the fallout, according to the Herald.