As the United States Supreme Court recognized in Berger v. United States, the twofold aim of the prosecutor “is that guilt shall not escape nor innocence suffer.” While the trial and appellate process contain important safeguards for those accused of crime, we recognize that the criminal justice system is a human institution and cannot be perfect.
The Chief Deputy District Attorney, in their capacity as Conviction Integrity Deputy, reviews claims of factual innocence made by persons who have been convicted of a crime. The Conviction Integrity Deputy will conduct an initial inquiry to determine whether further review and/or investigation is necessary to evaluate the claim. Where appropriate, the review may include review of transcripts, evaluation of forensic evidence in light of new scientific knowledge, additional forensic tests, witness interviews, or other investigation. The Conviction Integrity process supplements the appellate process to avoid the possibility of an innocent person being punished for a crime they did not commit.
Defendants claiming that they are innocent of a crime of which they have been convicted have the initial burden to produce evidence of innocence. The request shall be made in writing to Chief Deputy District Attorney Rachelle Dean, at the District Attorney’s main office address listed here. The request must raise a meaningful claim of factual innocence and not be merely a request for re-sentencing, a re-weighing of conflicting evidence or for relief from immigration consequences. The fact that claims have been previously rejected by a trial court or appellate court will not necessarily preclude further inquiry. Whether a case should be dismissed after conviction based upon factual innocence will be carefully considered by a designated review committee.
Please click here to view a 27 minute recorded episode of a “LA Round Table” where guests including former Special Assistant District Attorney Michael Schwartz recently discussed conviction integrity issues.