Annie Dookhan, the ex-chemist who stands accused of mishandling evidence in thousands of state drug cases, has been appearing in court after court since the 27-charge indictment against her came down Dec. 17, 2012. Following her latest arraignment Monday in Salem Superior Court, she has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Dookhan has now appeared at six arraignments in Suffolk, Norfolk, Plymouth, Bristol, Salem and Middlesex Superior Courts. She faces 17 counts of obstruction of justice, eight counts of tampering with evidence, perjury and falsely pretending to hold a degree from a college or university.
Due to the widespread nature of the situation – Dookhan’s malfeasance while she was employed at the Jamaica Plain drug lab has potentially corrupted cases in all the above-named districts – each court could try its own case against Dookhan.
Dookhan’s attorney, Nicolas A. Gordon of Mansfield, said early on his client could have accepted a deal to consolidate all of the charges to Suffolk Superior Court, saving him and his client loads of time and energy. He said by not doing this, he holds on to a strategic advantage.
“The only downside is having to drive around the state to go to all of these arraignments,” he told Patch in a phone interview.
Gordon said there are several reasons for the strategy, but one includes keeping his client’s options open. If he had decided to consolidate at that early stage – officially two days before Dookhan was to be tried in Suffolk Superio Court Dec. 20, 2012 – he put himself and his client in a position where they may be stuck with the decision if at a point later in the proceedings he decides he wants to separate the arraignments.
“If I had decided down the road it would make more sense to have them separated, I would be at the mercy of a judge,” he said. “The judge could deny that motion and the attorney general could stand against me.”
“Now, since they’re already separated, I know we’re not going to get any resistance six months from now if we decide to consolidate,” he said.
Gordon, who will now have to attend to six pre-trial conferences on Dookhan’s behalf while providing services to 30 other criminal clients, would not give any other reasons for the strategy as it stands now. He said he may at some point ask to consolidate but it’s too early to tell.
“Of course as attorneys everything we do is based on strategy,” he said. “I like to leave as many openings as possible."