Gov. Deval Patrick's administration is trying to figure out how much it will cost the state to sort through the legal problems caused by the mishandling of evidence at a Massachusetts drug testing lab.

In a letter sent on Thursday, Secretary of Administration and Finance Jay Gonzalez asked district attorneys, court administrators and other officials for initial estimates of the costs they expect to incur while dealing with the crisis.

The letter also seeks a description of the ``scope, nature and timing'' of the anticipated work.

Patrick is expected to formally request funds from the Legislature after the cost assessment is completed.

Authorities say the mishandling of drug samples by a former chemist at the Boston lab could compromise thousands of past convictions and ongoing criminal cases.  (Associated Press)