Conviction Integrity Working Group Launched to Prevent, Identify and Remedy Wrongful Convictions

BOSTON – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, Attorney General Maura Healey, Massachusetts Bar Association Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy, and Committee for Public Counsel Services Attorney-in-Charge Carolyn McGowan have begun convening meetings of the first-of-its-kind, statewide Conviction Integrity Program Working Group. The goal of the Working Group is to survey the landscape of existing conviction integrity programs in Massachusetts and nationwide. Members will be looking at ways prosecutorial offices, large and small, can work to better prevent, identify and remedy wrongful convictions.

“It is a prosecutor’s obligation to do justice as well as to protect the public safety. That obligation does not end with a defendant’s conviction. Recognizing that ours is a human system, it is imperative that prosecutors develop both plans for reviewing convictions and best practices for preventing wrongful convictions. The goal of this conviction integrity working group is to take a proactive and collaborative approach to developing such practices that will inform prosecutors across the state. We are all better served when the system works fairly and verdicts are unassailable,” said District Attorney Ryan.

“It’s critical that the public have confidence in the integrity of our state’s justice system,” said Attorney General Healey. “Through the work of this group, we hope to provide prosecutors across the state with the tools necessary to ensure their conviction integrity programs are robust and effective.”

Healy, from the MBA, added: “The legal system must always meet the highest standards for integrity by avoiding wrongful convictions with preventative measures, and providing a prompt investigation and resolution to those who have been wrongfully convicted. Together with our valued partners, District Attorney Ryan and Attorney General Healey, we will provide an added layer of oversight to promote the fair and universal application of the rule of law.”

The Working Group was created as a result of an MBA Criminal Justice Reform Working Group recommendation and aims to promote public trust and confidence in the criminal justice system. To do so, the group will make certain that all Massachusetts prosecutorial offices are taking the steps necessary to protect against wrongful convictions, enable prosecutorial offices to identify and reform internal policies and practices found deficient through re-investigation, and significantly reduce the number of successful legal challenges to convictions.

The Working Group includes:

CO-CHAIRS

District Attorney Marian Ryan, Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office
First Assistant Attorney General Mary B. Strother, Office of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey
Martin W. Healy, Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer, Massachusetts Bar Association
Richard W. Cole, Cole Civil Rights and Safe Schools Consulting, Massachusetts Bar Association representative and committee reporter
Carolyn I. McGowan, Attorney-in-Charge, Middlesex Superior Court Trial Unit, Committee for Public Counsel Services

MEMBERS

Professor Sharon L. Beckman, Director, Boston College Innocence Program, Boston College Law School
District Attorney Timothy Cruz, Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office
Marissa Leigh Elkins, Elkins, Auer, Rudof & Schiff
Ira Gant, Staff Attorney, Innocence Program, Committee for Public Counsel Services
Assistant District Attorney Bethany C. Lynch, Northwestern District Attorney’s Office
Radha Natarajan, Executive Director, New England Innocence Project
Alicia Rebello-Pradas, Deputy Chief, Policy & Government Division, Office of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey
Pippa Temple, Law Student (BC Law ’20), Boston College Innocence Program, Boston College Law School
Leslie Walker, Of Counsel, Former Executive Director, Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts

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