The public’s confidence in the Criminal Justice System depends upon the successful prosecution of those individuals who are guilty of criminal activity and the exoneration of those individuals who are innocent. Like all human systems, the Criminal Justice System is not immune from error.
The Monroe County District Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) aims to achieve justice by investigating claims of actual innocence or wrongful conviction, remedying cases involving actual innocence or wrongful conviction and recommending ways to prevent future wrongful prosecutions.
The CIU will be staffed by an attorney with significant experience as both a prosecutor and defense attorney, a paralegal and an investigator. The CIU is a separate and independent division of the District Attorney’s Office that reports directly to the District Attorney.
The CIU reinvestigates cases where a person has been convicted of a crime by the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office and presents a credible claim that they are actually innocent or were otherwise wrongfully convicted. A wrongful conviction is a conviction where the District Attorney no longer has confidence in the integrity of the plea or trial.
Convicted persons or their attorneys are required to submit an application and certification in writing. Only a convicted person or their attorney can make an application to the CIU. The application must make a non-frivolous claim of actual innocence or wrongful conviction. The convicted person is requested to submit any credible evidence of innocence or wrongful conviction with their application. Please submit copies, but not original evidence.
The convicted person must also sign the certification attached to the application acknowledging and agreeing to the following:
- The request for CIU review will not toll the time the convicted person has to pursue post-conviction remedies, such as filing an appeal or other post-conviction relief;
- That receipt of the application by the CIU does not indicate acceptance of the case for investigation, nor does it infer acceptance of the validity of the claim;
- The Monroe County District Attorney’s Office does not and cannot represent the convicted person, nor can it offer legal advice;
- Attorney-client privilege does NOT apply to anything revealed in the application form, documents submitted with the application form for review, or any future communication;
- The right to seek the assistance of counsel to advise the convicted person through the application and review process.
The CIU will conduct an initial review of the application. An application will be rejected if the CIU determines that no credible claim of actual innocence or wrongful conviction has been made. The CIU will notify the convicted person or their attorney in writing if the claim is rejected.
The CIU will review any criminal conviction, whether by plea or trial, obtained by the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office. However, the CIU may give priority to those convicted persons who are incarcerated, on parole, have exhausted appellate review or stand convicted of a serious felony crime. The CIU will not review applications of individuals with pending appeals, 440 motions or other collateral review of their convictions except under special circumstances. The initial evaluation will take time. The CIU will not provide updates on the status of the investigation. The CIU may correspond with the convicted person or their attorney to clarify an issue or seek additional information. The CIU will notify the convicted person or their attorney in writing of the CIU’s decision on whether or not to open an investigation into the case. There is no appellate review of a decision by the CIU to reject a case. However, convicted persons are welcome to reapply if new credible evidence is found concerning their claim of actual innocence or wrongful conviction.
If the Application sets forth a credible claim of actual innocence or wrongful conviction, the CIU will open an investigation into the case. The CIU will conduct a thorough and deliberative investigation of the crime and the integrity of the evidence used to convict the convicted person. The CIU’s investigation may include DNA, fingerprint or other relevant forensic testing. Where appropriate, the CIU may request the applicant to waive any legal privilege, such as attorney-client or spousal privilege, in order for CIU and defense counsel to share information. The CIU will not communicate to the convicted person or their attorney any preliminary conclusions or recommendations made as a result of the investigation.
At the conclusion of the investigation, the District Attorney will determine whether there is clear and convincing evidence that a person is actually innocent or was wrongfully convicted and will seek the appropriate legal and constitutional remedy. Depending upon the circumstances, the District Attorney may dismiss the case, enter into a plea agreement, or seek to retry the convicted person.
The District Attorney is vested with the sole responsibility of making all final decisions. Rejection of an application by the District Attorney or CIU is not appealable.
Please send the fully completed application and certification, along with copies (no originals) of evidence or materials to:
47 S. Fitzhugh Street
Rochester, New York 14614
OR Email: [email protected]