Annie Dookhan Claims Another Victim: Norfolk ADA Leaves Job. Is It Right?

I wrote about Annie Dookhan a while ago suggesting the events surrounding her were going to result in great cost and aggravation to Massachusetts. I urged those involved in the justice system to start doing something about the mess she created with her shenanigans in the drug laboratory. I noted with irony how the DPH Commissioner Auerbach announced the buck stopped with him but then went things heated up he quickly threw in all his underlings into the fire as he scampered off to another job.

I’d hoped I was through with Annie and the justice system would pick up the ball and run with it. That seems to have happened. Yesterday, however, I read in the Boston Globe that Annie “carried on an unauthorized, sometimes personal, e-mail and phone correspondence with a prosecutor [George Papachristos] whose drug evidence she analyzed . . . “  In the same article I read that the director of the ACLU in Massachusetts, Matthew R. Segal, is said to have “asked Attorney General Martha Coakley and the district attorneys to agree to throw out all drug cases ‘involving a police officer or prosecutor who, at any time, communicated directly with Annie Dookhan.’” Then, later in the day, the prosecutor Papachristos resigned and the DA Michael Morrissey accepted his resignation.

I don’t know where to begin but let me try. There is not one scintilla of evidence that Papachristos did anything wrong that I have seen. I don’t know where the Globe gets off labeling his activities as “unauthorized.”  I wonder “unauthorized by whom?”  It would be nice is the Globe was more specific.

Segal’s suggestion seems to be from a person unfamiliar with trying cases. Every prosecutor or police officer who has had a case with Annie had direct contact with her when she came to court to give evidence. They also have direct contest with every other expert witness in Massachusetts who comes in to testify. You see, to be a good prosecutor, you have to talk to your witnesses before you put them on the stand. Sometime you have to call them prior to trial to discuss their opinions or to make sure they are available. Usually with an expert witness, you will go to the person’s office and discuss the case with him. Defense lawyers also do this. it’s what you do to get ready for trial.

I did it. I’m reminded of this great chemist and wonderful man who worked for the state police named Frank Hankard of Weymouth.  (I had not thought of Frank for 20 years until I started writing about dealing with expert witnesses. I just Googled him. I saw he died this past August which saddens me.) I became friendly with Frank because I was doing all the arson cases in the office at a time when a lot of arsons were happening. He was one of the best witnesses I ever had. He taught me many things about arsons that made me into a better prosecutor. Neither he nor I would ever think of altering the evidence because of our friendly relationship.

There is nothing wrong with a prosecutor being friendly or having a relationship with a witness. It is quite common for prosecutors to socialize with witnesses who will testify.They are on very friendly relationships with the investigators and detectives with whom they work or other police officers with whom they deal on a daily basis. It is the nature of the job to develop these friendships and to go out and have a couple of beers, play sports, or otherwise spend time with people who work with them and will be witnesses.

I’m sure no one is surprised at this. But what you are all thinking is “yes, of course that is all right, but you can’t let your friendship interfere with your job.” You’re absolutely right. As long as it does not affect the evidence that the prosecutor will present to the court discussions with witnesses and even socializing with them is fine.

What isn’t proper is if in any way the evidence will be altered or tainted or spun in the slightest bit because of the relationship.

We all understand this. All prosecutors should play everything straight and have no agendas. They should strive to be fair and honest at all times while trying the case hard to the best of his or her ability.

That brings me to Papachristos’s resignation. That is a big mystery to me. Now I don’t know anything more than the rest of you know about this incident other than what we read in the newspapers. It seems to me that Papachristos should not have resigned if he did nothing wrong with Annie as it relates to the evidence. If he had a personal relationship with her, of whatever kind, that is not a reason why he should resign. If he handled his job in an upright and honest manner he should still have it.

He said he was resigning because he had become a distraction. He was no more a distraction than you or I. Sure, the Globe put out a story suggesting things but never suggested  Papachristos did  not do his job or that he had somehow affected the ongoing investigations or actions that are being taken against Annie. The Norfolk DA’s office is not prosecuting her. I just don’t see where he is a distraction.

If what we’ve read is all we know, then DA Morrissey should not have accepted his resignation. He should stand by his man and support him during this tough time. He should not have allowed a newspaper with vague and speculative allegations and secret agenda to chase him out of a job. Having him leave the office makes it look like more is involved here.

If there is more to this, if Papachristos was working with Annie to taint or alter the evidence, which I strongly doubt, hen he should not have been allowed to resign. He should have been fired and then prosecuted.  If Papachristos misrepresented to Morrissey his relationship with Annie then the resignation is the right remedy even though there would be nothing wrong with such a relationship. You can’t deceive the boss.

But all I’ve read tells me he is being chased out because the Globe made much ado about nothing.  I hope that is not the case.


2 thoughts on “Annie Dookhan Claims Another Victim: Norfolk ADA Leaves Job. Is It Right?

  1. What happens if Dookhan says at a later date that she made the whole story up? That she was pulling the State Cops chains when she said she faked results. That she was a huge fan of Graham Green and that ” Our Man in Havana” was her favorite book. Every claim she made was notional. That she intends to write a book entitled ” How one woman legalized drugs”. A movie will follow starring Rooney Mara as Annie. Three years from now she will be a judge on American Idol.2. Yout points about Weeks and Patty’s about Nee are excellent. Can a prosecutor Knowingly produce false testimony and not violate the law? 3. Should Professor Torture be called by Carney as a witness? Didn’t he claim that Bill Bulger was the Godfather of the Winter Hill gang? Since Whitey was a major factor in Winter Hill and the trial will focus on that group it would seem essential that a person with unique insights into the structure of the enterprise provide guidance to the jury. If Carney can marry the perjury, murders and sweetheart deals to a political vendetta he might have something.

    1. Five years from now she’ll be on the superior court bench. Not likely though. Little Chemist Annie is pretty much sunk. She can’t go home again. The AG said she’s facing twenty years now and expects to charge her with more. I don’t know how good Annie’s lawyer is. Never heard of the guy but maybe he can get her to turn against someone whose not an FBI informant. I did not know why you mentioned Rooney Mara, forgive my ignorance but I never heard of her, until I Googled her and read: “Mara has Irish roots on both sides of her family.” You’re very parochial. I would suggest that Yoko Ono would be better cast for the role.
      I wrote to Billy about your question relative to the duties of a prosecutor. How do we know a prosecutor is knowingly producing false testimony since to know that we have to look into his heart, if he has one, or at least his mind. We’ve yet to figure out how to do that. It reminds me of the time when JJ Sullivan at Latin School lit a firecracker to throw at the teacher and just as the wick started to burn the teacher turned back toward the class and saw him holding it. JJ threw it off to the side of the room where it exploded. The teacher said, “all right Mr. Sullivan, five misdemeanor marks.” JJ said: “For what?” The teacher sputtered back, “For what? That firecracker you just threw!” JJ said: “What firecracker?” JJ was once a federal prosecutor. He knew the are of denying the obvious. Maybe the federal prosecutors are of the same mind today: “What false testimony?”
      Professor Dershowitz is too busy to get involved. He will opine mightily during the trial, rest assured of that.
      I think Carney has to ask the government to disclose whether any of the witnesses it intends to call are FBI informants. That clearly is discoverable and is exculpatory especially in this area. If Carney can show the FBI is still doing what Connolly was condemned for doing, then the first thing is Connolly should be released; the next thing is they should shut down the FBI office; and the final thing is that every person in Southie who has been hurt by the FBI should have a right to sue for damages.

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