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San Francisco prosecutors told judges Friday that they could not "ethically go forward" with 46 narcotics trials because of evidence problems arising out of the scandal at the Police Department's drug-analysis lab - signaling that the district attorney is likely to dismiss nearly all 750 pending drug cases in the city. "Based on what the district attorney's office knows about the issues within the narcotics division of the crime lab, we cannot ethically go forward with this prosecution," Assistant District Attorney Nancy Tung told a judge overseeing a case that was serving as a test of how much police and prosecutors had to disclose to defense attorneys about problems at the drug lab.
Prosecutors dropped that test case, a coc aine-sales trial, after having been deluged with 1,500 pages of police files about the lab that a spokesman for the district attorney called "troubling" and said pointed to possible larger problems in the Police Department.
Prosecutors are legally required to give up any evidence that could clear a defendant, and the judge in Mario Bell's coc aine-dealing case, who reviewed the papers in private, said Thursday that many of the police files could be relevant in Bell's trial. Now that his case has been dropped, however, the documents will not be given to his attorney.