Napa County District Attorney Allison Haley announced today that her office has opened the County’s first Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU.) The CIU will review and investigate claims of innocence raised after a criminal conviction in cases of homicide, sex offenses and violent crimes when the defendant is still serving a prison sentence. The CIU may examine claims of innocence in other types of cases if a significant prison commitment or collateral consequence indicates that an examination of the case is warranted. The purpose of the unit is to provide an opportunity for the review or reconsideration of facts that bear directly on the question of innocence of the convicted defendant.
The CIU is not a court and its work is not governed by court rules of procedure. The CIU investigates claims of actual innocence based on new evidence; it does not function as a “13th juror” to review factual questions that already have been decided by a jury. Its mission is to determine whether new evidence shows that an innocent person has been wrongfully convicted for a crime, and to recommend steps to rectify such situations.
Cases that meet eligibility criteria will be reviewed by a Deputy District Attorney. If further investigation is required, a District Attorney Investigator will be assigned to the case.
It is important to note that no attorney or investigator involved in the original prosecution will be a part of a CIU case’s review team. If the conclusion is reached that there is clear and convincing evidence that there exists a plausible claim of actual innocence in the case, our office will rectify the case by dismissal, plea withdrawal or other appropriate remedy.
“Cases can come to our attention with or without the assistance of an attorney. Our goals include equalizing access to the investigative authority of our office in cases of wrongful convictions and an earnest demonstration of humility by acknowledging that the work of a District Attorney’s Office isn’t infallible. When it comes to justice, there is never too bright a light to shine on the truth,” said District Attorney Allison Haley.