New York Establishes Bureau to Review Wrongful Convictions

The New York Attorney General will establish the Conviction Review Bureau to review wrongful convictions as well as establish a system to streamline damage claims arising from such convictions.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement,

“There is only one person who wins when the wrong person is convicted of a crime: the real perpetrator, who remains free to commit more crimes. For victims, their families and any of us who could suffer the nightmare of being wrongly accused, it is imperative that we do everything possible to maximize accuracy, justice and reliability in our justice system.”

Assistant attorney general and former homicide prosecutor Thomas Schellhammer will lead the bureau, which will work in conjunction with district attorneys to identify cases where there is substantial doubt surrounding a conviction. Per the New York Times,

If a district attorney’s office chooses to refer the case to the attorney general, then the attorney general’s office will have jurisdiction to reinvestigate the case and handle the subsequent legal proceedings.

Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, hopes that prosecutors take full advantage of the new bureau.

The initial signs provide room for some optimism. Kate Hogan, Warren County District Attorney said that she and other prosecutors “have always appreciated the seriousness of post-conviction review” and looks forward to the opportunity to work with the bureau in reviewing cases. Other prosecutors, including Janet DiFiore of Westchester county and Cyrus R. Vance Jr. of Manhattan, have also expressed early support of Schellhammer and the bureau.

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