The Supreme Judicial Court today ordered a new trial for Daniel Francis, whom a jury found guilty of trafficking crack in 2005 because a key part of the evidence against him was certification from the disgraced chemist that the substance police found in his car - and in the mouth of a man who'd just left his car - was crack.
The court had previously ordered new trials for people who had pleaded guilty to drug charges based on drug certifications signed by Dookhan, who herself got 3-5 years in prison after pleading guilty to evidence tampering in 2013. Francis's case was different because he was convicted by a jury after a trial.
As in the earlier cases, a key question for the justices was whether there was sufficient evidence not from Dookhan's lab that would have supported the prosecution's case against Francis.
Because the evidence independent of the drug certificates did not overwhelmingly prove that the substance at issue was cocaine, we cannot conclude that the Commonwealth has met its burden of proving that the admission of the drug certificates did not influence the jury and or had only slight effect on their verdicts.