The Work of Justice Beyond the Conviction.

AuthorDupree, Mark A., Sr.


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled "As such, [the Prosecutor] is in a peculiar and very definite sense the servant of the law, the twofold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape, nor innocence suffer. He may prosecute with earnestness and vigor--indeed, he should do so but, while he may strike hard blows, he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one." Berger v. U.S., 295 U.S. 78, 88 (1935).

There are two mandates that jump out in the above ruling which are 1.) the guilt should not escape, 2.) nor the innocence suffer. Thus, pursuing and convicting the correct person is of the utmost importance to uphold the integrity of the American criminal justice system. Over 2,400 people have been exonerated since 1989, thus over 2,400 people have needlessly suffered. There is work to be done. As Ministers of Justice we take this mandate seriously, and we are ordered to administer justice fairly, justly, and correctly.

The American Bar Association (ABA) special responsibilities of a prosecutor states, "when a prosecutor knows of clear and convincing evidence establishing that a defendant in the prosecutor's jurisdiction was convicted of an offense that the defendant did not commit, the prosecutor shall seek to remedy the conviction." ABA Rule 3.8h. In order for us to know if such a misfortune has occurred, we as prosecutors must have the willingness to investigate cases where such possibilities may exist. A Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) does that investigation and is vital and beneficial in every prosecutors office. More than 45 jurisdictions have conviction review units; establishing a CIU is a practical and prudent way to identify and remedy past injustices. The CIU examines credible and verifiable claims of innocence and constitutional violations with the highest standard of professional integrity. Wyandotte County citizens supported, and our elected Commissioners funded, the first ever Conviction Integrity Unit in the state of Kansas. We are proud of this forward-thinking unit. We believe every conviction that comes out of any prosecutors office must hold integrity, both now and in decades to come. The mission of the CIU is to ensure postconviction justice through a commitment to search for truth. The CIU focuses on bringing the truly guilty to justice and...

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