Wed April 11, 2012
State establishes bureau to review wrongful conviction claims
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced establishment of a Conviction Review Bureau in New York to address potential wrongful convictions.
Schneiderman says the bureau will work with law enforcement agencies across the state to ensure that those convicted of crimes are indeed the real perpetrators. The AG's office will work with regional district attorneys to identify and address "compelling claims of innocence."
The bureau will be led by Thomas Schellhammer, an assistant attorney general and former prosecuter in New York County, and Blake Zeff, Schneiderman's senior advisor.
While noting cases where county prosecutors successfully reinvestigated convictions, like the Central Park jogger case in Manhattan, Schneiderman says there may be others where an outside review helps.
The bureau's establishment is being widely hailed. Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, says DNA exonerations of wrongful convictions "give you the opportunity to see where the system failed and how it can be made more just."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.