Police & Fire
Georgia’s First Ever Conviction Integrity Unit Formed In Fulton
The Atlanta child murders will be the first case to be examined by the unit, which is still searching for a director.
By Tim Darnell, Patch Staff
Apr 26, 2019 12:42 pm ET
ATLANTA — Fulton County D.A Paul Howard Jr. announced on Friday the creation of Georgia’s first ever conviction integrity unit (CIU). The unit, Howard said, will investigate claims of actual innocence to determine whether new evidence or facts may prove a convicted defendant didn’t commit the offense.
“The CIU will investigate claims of actual innocence or wrongful convictions by convicted defendants who have already been through their trial and appellate processes,” Howard said. “The CIU will review cases in which there is new factual, physical, or forensic evidence. The unit will also review cases in which there is relevant evidence that went untested at the time of trial or some other new evidence that a person was convicted wrongfully.”
Howard has already announced that the Wayne Williams/Atlanta child murders case will be the first to undergo an in-depth review by the newly formed unit, which is still searching for its director.
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Cases must fall into at least one of these four categories to be considered for re-investigation.
Alleged misconduct on part of prosecutor/law enforcement officer
Forensic testing of relevant evidence
Sentence modifications due to nature of offense/defendant’s lack of criminal history
Cases determined to warrant review in “interest of justice”
Howard said D.A’s offices across the U.S. are creating CIUs to re-examine questionable convictions and to guard against future conviction error. “We believe prosecutors can and should be leading the charge to ensure the public has confidence in criminal convictions,” Howard said. “The many proven cases of wrongful convictions and their known causes demonstrate that more needs to be done to guard against such errors.
“Conviction Integrity Units must investigate and remedy wrongful convictions, and they must also establish policies and procedures to learn from the errors identified, so the criminal justice system is strengthened.”
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