Eligibility has also been expanded to include those convicted felons who previously pleaded guilty but now claim actual innocence.
“While I continue to believe we have the best criminal justice system in the world, it is not flawless. I created the CRU to examine claims of actual innocence and serve as a vehicle to make right any miscarriage of justice in my jurisdiction,” Brauchler said. “Justice demands no less.”
“A felony conviction is a hurdle to life after prison. It is a stigma, as well as a barrier to re-employment, especially in our battered economy. If that label was applied to an innocent person, we are morally obligated to fix that.”
The CRU has a committee of 12 community members selected for their areas of expertise including investigators, former judges, defense attorneys and prosecutors. They will review trial and case materials and any new evidence, as well as recommend possible additional investigation. If the CRU finds a valid claim of actual innocence, the case will be presented to District Attorney Brauchler.
If he agrees with the CRU recommendation, District Attorney Brauchler will determine what further action can and should be taken.
“In the District Attorney’s Office, we are committed to seeking justice,” said Assistant District Attorney Matt Maillaro. “If there is evidence that a convicted defendant did not commit the crimes for which he or she was incarcerated, that is something we must address and make right. The Conviction Review Unit gives us a mechanism to accomplish that, and I encourage it.”
More details about the Conviction Review Unit can be found on the District Attorney’s website at da18.org/conviction-review-unit/, along with the full CRU policy and application for review.