NJ judge to hear lawsuits tied to 10K cases linked to tech accused of faking drug test
TRENTON — The state Supreme Court has appointed a judge to handle potential lawsuits by defendants whose cases relied on drug evidence handled by a North Jersey lab technician accused of falsifying a marijuana test result.
Kamalkant Shah, the now-retired lab worker at the State Police Office of Forensic Sciences North Regional Laboratory, was the primary laboratory examiner in 7,827 drug cases, state officials have previously said.
But doubt has been cast on thousands more cases. Shah conducted peer reviews on 970 additional cases and conducted administrative reviews on another 1,622 cases in 13 counties.
The Attorney General's Office says it knows of only one case in which Shah falsified a lab result. He was removed from duty in December and state Division of Criminal Justice Director Elie Honig in February informed county prosecutors about the incident.
Shah has not been charged with a crime but a state criminal investigation continues and questions remain about what this could mean for drug defendants across the sate.
The number cases in which Shah was involved were detailed Tuesday in an administrative order signed by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, who appointed Supreme Court Judge Edward A. Jerejian, sitting in Hackensack, to review all cases filed by defendants alleging that Shah failed to properly handle their purported drug evidence.
This would include cases where defendants are incarcerated, already completed a jail sentence, or who were accepted into a pre-trial intervention program or sentenced to probation.
Jerejian also will hear cases seeking expungement of records involving arrests, charges and convictions in cases that relied on evidence handled by Shah.
A Sussex County lawyer already has filed notice that he intends to sue on behalf of clients whose drug evidence was handled by Shah's lab. And a lawyer for a Bergen County man facing cocaine charges filed a motion last month asking a judge to throw out the indictment against his client based on Shah's handling of the drug evidence.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.