More than a dozen people convicted of drug crimes in New Jersey plan to sue for damages after authorities revealed that the lab technician who handled evidence in their cases may have been negligent.
Kamalkant Shah, a technician for the New Jersey State Police, worked at a laboratory in Little Falls, NJ. In late 2015, he was found by law enforcement officials to have “dry labbed” a substance identified as pot in a marijuana possession case. Dry labbing means that he pretended to test the substance and then reported it as marijuana. A co-worker at the Little Falls lab said that they saw Shah writing down test results even though the substance was not actually tested.
In the aftermath of Shah’s deception, nearly 8,000 criminal cases that he worked on – many of which resulted in convictions or guilty pleas – have been questioned. The assignment judge for Passaic County went so far as to suggest that anyone who is currently behind bars as a result of tests conducted by Shah should immediately be released. Until more tests are done, said the assignment judge, “you’ve got to let them out.”
In all likelihood, however, defendants who accepted plea deals early in the criminal justice process probably won’t be able to get their drug crime convictions overturned. On some level, this seems wrong – especially if the defendants were pressured into plea agreements because the evidence against them was considered particularly strong.
The exact drug crimes that the clients were convicted of have not been revealed at this time. In fact, the identities of the convicted individuals were not revealed yet either; the plaintiffs in the civil case were identified in the notice of tort claim only by their initials.
For additional information, view the NJ.com article, “Lawyer Plans to Sue State Police over Lab Tech Who Faked Results.”
If you or a loved one has been charged with simple possession of marijuana, cocaine possession or any other drug offense in New Jersey, you should talk to a qualified criminal defense attorney. The experienced South Jersey criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty will help you fight your drug crime charges and avoid the most severe penalties. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation about your case.