United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
DOUGLAS P. WOODLOCK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
August 2012, it came to light that Annie Dookhan, a chemist
at a Massachusetts state testing laboratory, had been falsely
certifying drug-tests. Ms. Dookhan has since been convicted
and imprisoned for her misconduct, but the reverberations
from her actions continue to be felt across the criminal
justice system. As the First Circuit has explained, Ms.
Dookhan's misconduct has "called into question a
large number of federal and state drug convictions."
Wilkins v. United States, 754 F.3d 24, 26 (1st Cir.
matters now before me join a parade of challenges in this
court by individuals seeking to vacate their convictions due
to Ms. Dookhan's misconduct. Because of Ms. Dookhan's
involvement in the drug convictions of Carlos Bravo and Luis
Rosario, both now seek to vacate their guilty pleas to obtain
a new trial. Bravo and Rosario contend that as a result of
their lack of awareness of Ms. Dookhan's misconduct,
their pleas were involuntary in violation of the Fifth and
Fourteenth Amendments. Moreover, they allege that the United
States' failure to provide true and accurate discovery
regarding Ms. Dookhan's misconduct prior to their pleas
deprived them of due process.
and Rosario undertake to revoke their guilty pleas by
bringing a motion for a new trial under Fed. R. Crim. Proc .,
Rule 33. That, however, is not the appropriate vehicle to
bring these post-conviction claims. First, there cannot be a
new trial because there was never an initial trial in the
first place. Bravo and Rosario pled guilty. United States
v. Graciani, 61 F.3d 70, 78 (1st Cir. 1995) ("A
defendant who enters a guilty plea cannot thereafter use Rule
33 as a wedge to undo his acknowledgement that he committed
the offense.") Second, the time period in which to bring
such a motion on the basis of newly discovered evidence -
three years following the "verdict or finding of
guilty" - had long passed when Bravo and Rosario filed
their motions. Rule 33(b)(1).
the circumstances, I treat the claims of Bravo and Rosario as
being pursued through a motion for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28. U.S.C. § 2255.
reasons stated below, I will deny the relief Bravo and
September 2006, law enforcement commenced an investigation
relating to criminal activity associated with cocaine. The
investigation revealed that Luis Castillo was a cocaine
source in the City of Lawrence, Massachusetts. As a result of
the investigations, law enforcement made five seizures of
kilogram quantities of cocaine. The investigation resulted in
a five-count indictment charging sixteen individuals,
including Bravo and Rosario, who were both charged in Counts
One (conspiracy to distribute) and Two (possession with
intent). Bravo and Rosario pled guilty to both counts.
Contemporaneous Evidence Regarding Offense Conduct By Rosario
February 22, 2017, shortly after 1:50pm, Castillo and another
associate arrived at the building located at 333 Howard
Street, Lawrence, Massachusetts.
ten minutes later, a GMC Yukon arrived at the front of 333
Howard Street; Rosario and Bravo exited the car and attempted
to enter the front entrance of the building, but were unable
to gain access. Rosario and Bravo then drove around to the
rear of the building and parked the vehicle. Investigators
thereafter observed Castillo exit the building carrying a
blue plastic bag, which he handed to Bravo, who was sitting
in the front passenger seat of the GMC Yukon. Castillo
reentered the building, and the GMC Yukon left the area at a
high rate of speed. As agents pursued, the GMC Yukon ran two
stop signs and continued to travel at a high rate of speed.
The passenger, Bravo, was observed dropping the blue plastic
bag out the window. When they finally stopped, Rosario and
Bravo were arrested. Agents retrieved the blue bag and found
it contained approximately one kilogram of a white-powdery
substance, which field-tested positive for the presence of
thereafter, law-enforcement agents arrested Castillo and
another associate at 333 Howard Street. Pursuant to a search
warrant of an apartment at 333 Howard Street, agents found
approximately two kilograms of a white powdery substance,
believed to be cocaine; approximately $8, 980 in cash;
"three pieces of drug notes"; a digital scale; and
miscellaneous documents in Castillo's name.
February 28, 2007, the white substance in the blue plastic
bag dropped from the GMC Yukon was submitted to the Hinton
State Laboratory Institute.
Analyst Delia Saunders was assigned as the primary chemist to
analyze the substance (designated laboratory number of
792497). As the primary chemist, she checked the evidence in
the envelope and ensured it was consistent with the
description on the evidence control card. Thereafter, she
signed the sample in the evidence log book and took it to her
laboratory bench where she secured it in her evidence locker
until she was ready to analyze it. To Ms. Saunders'
knowledge, only she and the lab supervisor, Charles Salemi,
had access to the evidence locker.
April 9, 2007, Ms. Saunders conducted her analysis. She
performed a series of preliminary tests and filled out a
powder analysis sheet with the lab number, the submitting
agency, the balance that she used (along with calibration
check values), and her initials. She then recorded the gross
weight (with packaging included) and the net weight of the
evidence (recorded as 1000.70 grams), and conducted further
tests, including color tests and microcrystalline tests.
Pursuant to ...