Restructuring the Conviction Integrity Unit
Although the Manhattan DA currently has a Conviction Integrity Unit, it is poorly resourced and rife with conflicts of interest. As recently detailed in The New Yorker article “A Murder Trial in Reverse”, the Conviction Integrity Unit has no clear structure, no established protocols, no input from the community, and even allows people with obvious conflicts to be involved. In short, it reflects the outdated way of thinking that the power of the prosecutor belongs to the DA alone.
- Diana will revamp the current Conviction Integrity Unit to be more inclusive and transparent to people including those requesting to review their own cases, their lawyers, families and even the community.
- The current Conviction Integrity Unit allows reviews of guilty pleas, pending appeals, and defendants serving jail sentences on misdemeanor cases only if a systemic failure led to guilty pleas. Diana is proposing to expand Conviction Integrity Unit cases review to include all misdemeanors.
- Diana’s Conviction Integrity Unit will include the review and support of clemency and pardon requests, as well as other reviews of cases for relief from long sentences that raise concern proportionality, fairness or where the applicant is elderly or ill and no longer poses a danger to the community.
- Diana will ensure the unit is accountable to members of the community, public defenders, advocates, private attorneys and more who will review the findings of the unit at quarterly meetings.
- Diana will staff the unit with lawyers who have not previously worked for the Manhattan DA’s Office to ensure transparency.
- Diana’s Conviction Integrity Unit will publish and release an annual report that explains the work and decision of the unit, which includes the incorporation of lessons learned into office-wide training and policy changes to address the issues.