Judge: Nearly 15,000 cases possibly affected by tainted law work

A New Jersey judge says there could be nearly 15,000 drug cases that were possibly undermined after a forensic lab technician was accused of shoddy work.

The judge held a preliminary hearing on Wednesday to outline the process for vetting conviction challenges. He says the courts are expecting hundreds, if not thousands, of cases.

Suspended lab technician Kamal Shah, who worked at a State Police crime lab in Little Falls, is accused of not properly conducting laboratory analyses, peer reviews or administrative reviews of drug evidence.

A criminal investigation of Shah is underway.

Many defense attorneys have filed motions to have their clients' convictions thrown out and guilty pleas withdrawn.

Defense attorney Frank Carbonetti says that convictions in any way based on Shah's testing should be thrown out.

"We have two clients in New Jersey State Prison which both of their drugs, alleged drugs, in their cases were tested by the forensic chemist, Shah."

Assistant Attorney General Michael Williams says his office has re-tested 160 priority drug cases. None were deemed faulty.

A special judge has bene assigned to handle the number of conviction cases that are expected to be challenged.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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