FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Case of Mariem Megalla

by ANTHONY PAPA

Mariem Megalla is a 24-year veteran forensic technician with the New York Police Department. She was suspended from her job last year when she was caught falsifying drug test results at the NYPD’s crime lab in Jamaica, Queens. Because of this, thousands of court cases were thrown into question, prompting Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to call a meeting with representatives of the five district attorneys at the office of NYC’s special narcotics prosecutor Bridget Brennan.

Given the length of her tenure at the NYPD, it was reported that potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of cases would have to be reviewed. In one example, Megalla was accused of labeling a crack pipe positive for cocaine when it actually tested negative because she didn’t want to walk to another building to fill out the required paperwork. Megalla’s slacking on the job led to a probe by the both the NYPD and the Queens District Attorney’s Office.

One year later, a lot of questions remain unanswered about this case. It’s not even clear whether Mariem Megalla is back on the job or not. I contacted the NYPD’s Public Affairs Office and was told to email my questions to them. No response. I contacted the Queens District Attorney’s office and spoke to Helen Peterson who declined to talk about their investigation of the case. I then talked to several reporters who had covered the story and most everyone seemed like they were in the dark about current news of it. Although one reporter told me that he thought Megalla is back on duty full-time.

The public has a right to know the outcome of this investigation. There’s a possibility that thousands of people’s lives were adversely affected by Megalla’s actions, and the absence of any real information after an entire year is suspicious, at best. Especially when you consider the very different outcome of a similar case in nearby Nassau:

Recently, it was pointed out that 3,000 convictions were in question due to possible tainted evidence in the Nassau County crime lab. After a flurry of press coverage, District Attorney Kathleen Rice responded to the discovery in the same way the NYPD did in the Magella case – by making a public announcement of a meeting with top-level officials to deal with the issue. But that’s where the similarity stops. In the Nassau County crime lab case, Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly intervened and appointed State Inspector General Ellen Biben to lead an investigation, which led to the labs demise. In turn, Rice was compelled to send letters to hundreds of potential defendants which eventually led to many filing motions to overturn their convictions.

But in the Megalla case it seems to be totally the opposite. Recently, I was contacted by Diana Collins, whose son is in NY state prison serving an 8-year sentence for possession of less than 1 gram of crack. D’ Juan Collins was sentenced in 2008 and has been fighting his conviction ever since. He claims to be wrongfully convicted, and has been denied exculpatory evidence by the NYPD that would show Megalla’s mishandling of the drugs used to convict him. But far worse for him than his sentence is the fact that he is now in jeopardy of losing parental rights to his 4-year old son Isaiah, who is currently in foster care. My question is how many D’ Juan Collins’s have been denied evidence that could be used to challenge their convictions?

The NYPD needs to alert the public to the outcome of the Mariem Megalla case and assure that justice has been served.

Anthony Papa is the author of 15
Years to Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom
and Communications
Specialist for Drug Policy
Alliance
. He can be reached at: anthonypapa123@yahoo.com

 

Anthony Papa is the Manager of Media and Artist Relations for the Drug Policy Alliance and the author of This Side of Freedom: Life After Lockdown.

Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
David Yearsley
Miles Davis: Ace of Baseness
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail