Prosecutor Disbarred In Drug Lab Scandal Seeks Reprieve

By Julie Manganis | October 12, 2023, 4:34 PM EDT ·

A former Massachusetts assistant attorney general who was ordered disbarred by the state's highest court in August for failing to disclose evidence of misconduct by a state drug lab chemist is asking that her disbarment be imposed retroactively to 2018.

Anne K. Kaczmarek said in a motion filed late last month that the notoriety of the drug lab case has already effectively prevented her from working as a lawyer since then.

The Sept. 28 filing argues the Supreme Judicial Court "should temper justice with mercy by taking into consideration the unofficial sanction" she has already received as a result of the scandal, which has been the subject of both local and national media attention, a Netflix documentary and highly critical, publicly available decisions both by the court and the state's Board of Bar Overseers.

If the motion is allowed, Kaczmarek would be able to request reinstatement of her law license three years from now, as opposed to waiting eight years.

Kaczmarek was one of three prosecutors in the Massachusetts attorney general's office to face discipline over the failure to alert county district attorneys about evidence showing that a chemist at the state drug lab in Amherst, Sonja Farak, had been stealing and using drugs that had been sent there by police to be tested. A colleague, Kris Foster, was suspended for a year for signing court filings based on Kaczmarek's word, and a supervisor, John Verner, was given a public reprimand.

"While Kaczmarek accepts the court's decision, she requests the retroactive application of her sanction as an acknowledgment of the unofficial sanction she has endured due to this lengthy and high-profile proceeding and the highly unusual circumstance in which her misconduct occurred," the motion said.

The Office of Bar Counsel, which prosecutes cases of attorney misconduct, said in an Oct. 2 opposition to the request it's that very notoriety that "constituted an aggravating factor" weighing in favor of disbarment.

Assistant bar counsel Joseph Makalusky said in the filing that not only is there no precedent for imposing a retroactive disbarment when an attorney had not been subject to a suspension pending the outcome of a matter, but also that Kaczmarek failed to raise the issue previously.

He also quoted the court's Aug. 31 holding that, "As a result of Kaczmarek's intentional and egregious misconduct, the due process rights of thousands of criminal defendants were violated for a prolonged period based on the withholding of exculpatory evidence."

"In short, neither the law nor the facts support Kaczmarek's position," Makalusky wrote in opposition to the request.

In a reply filed Oct. 5, Kaczmarek acknowledged that her request "may be novel, but it fits the highly unusual circumstances of this case."

A hearing on the request is scheduled for Oct. 26 before Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice David Lowy in a single-justice session.

Kaczmarek's attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday. The Office of Bar Counsel declined to comment.

Kaczmarek is represented by Thomas R. Kiley and Meredith G. Fierro of Cosgrove Eisenberg & Kiley PC.

The Office of Bar Counsel is represented by its own Joseph Makalusky.

The case is In re: Kris C. Foster, Anne K. Kaczmarek and John C. Verner, case number BD-2022-060, in the Supreme Judicial Court for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

--Additional reporting by Chris Villani. Editing by Scott Russell.

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