Mass. high court rules on drug lab case procedures

Posted: 07/22/13 at 1:50 pm EDT

BOSTON (AP) -- Massachusetts' highest court says special magistrates dealing with drug cases tainted by a crime lab scandal can't release convicts on bail before they're granted new trials.

But the ruling says Superior Court judges can decide to do that after special magistrates make recommendations.

Monday's ruling relates to special "drug lab" court sessions that started after authorities shut down a state lab and arrested former chemist Annie Dookhan.

The 35-year-old pleaded not guilty after an indictment alleged she faked test results and tampered with evidence.

The American Civil Liberties Union says the ruling affirms the process already in place.

Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett had challenged special magistrates' roles and whether defendants could be freed while new trial motions were pending. A spokeswoman says he's pleased by the clarification of procedures.

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