The Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) will begin operations January 11, 2021, as a part of the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, Bessemer Division. The Protocols developed by this office for the establishment and operation of the CIU are as follows:
It is the duty of the prosecutor to protect the innocent before, during, and after trial. The prosecutor is to seek truth and justice, not merely obtain convictions. Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 3.8 sets forth the special responsibilities of a prosecutor and includes the following:
When a prosecutor knows of clear and convincing evidence establishing that a person was convicted in the prosecutor’s jurisdiction of an offense that the person did not commit, the prosecutor shall seek to remedy the conviction.
To promote best practices, the Office of the District Attorney has established a Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) to formalize and standardize, within the 10th Judicial District, Bessemer, actions called for by the Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct Rule 3.8.
CONVICTION INTEGRITY UNIT • 10TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, BESSEMER • JEFFERSON COUNTY
Bessemer Criminal Justice Center • 1851 2nd Avenue • Suite 110 • Bessemer, AL 35020
Tel. 205 497-8610 • Fax 205 496-8603
The conviction must have occurred within the Bessemer Division of Jefferson County. The application must be based on new credible and verifiable evidence of innocence. The CIU will not attempt to act as a thirteenth juror and reweigh evidence. The CIU will not consider requests for review while any appeal, petition, or writ is pending in court. The CIU retains the discretion to review any case if it is in the interest of justice to do so.
Any request coming from a convicted person or one other than a convicted person must include the convicted person’s written approval of the request, including a completed Conviction Integrity Request Questionnaire form provided by the CIU which is available upon request or online.
In order for the CIU to consider a request for review, the convicted person must agree on the following cooperation:
Once a case is referred to the CIU, the procedure is as follows:
If the CIU decides to proceed with a full investigation, the Office of the District Attorney will notify the victim(s) of the case pursuant to the Alabama Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights.
If the CIU conducts a full investigation, the CIU Assistant District Attorney(s) will prepare a report summarizing the case facts, the issues presented by the application, and any investigative findings. The report will contain the CIU’s recommendation and be presented to the Assistant District Attorney and the District Attorney. The decision to recommend or not recommend that the conviction be vacated rests with the District Attorney. A recommendation to vacate a conviction will be made to the Alabama Attorney General’s Office if the District Attorney no longer has confidence in the conviction because of clear and convincing evidence of actual innocence.
The convicted person will be notified in writing of the District Attorney’s final decision.
The standard to be used by the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office- Bessemer Cutoff Division is “clear and convincing evidence” that a person was convicted in our jurisdiction of an offense the person did not commit.
A recommendation to vacate a conviction will be made if the Assistant District Attorney no longer has confidence in the conviction because of clear and convincing evidence of actual innocence.
The CIU will assist with training programs to promote best practices and to reduce non-conforming work or departures from policies and procedures.
As a general policy, the CIU will not investigate, in the absence of other compelling justification, claims where the convicted person knew or should have known the basis of his or her current claim at the time of the conviction, or where the person now disavows his or her trial testimony and offers a different theory of innocence. Additionally, absent a compelling showing that a guilty or no contest plea was entered to avoid a more significant sanction, the convicted person must have continually maintained his or her innocence in order to merit review.
It is also the policy of the District Attorney’s Office and the CIU to preclude any member of this office that participated in the prosecution of a case that is being reviewed from the decision-making process for that case.