Projects, Units & Initiatives
The Wrongful Conviction Unit continues to grow in size and outreach since its inception in 2019. As a result of tripling in size, the Unit has been able to take on more clients, reinvestigate their cases, and advocate for their exoneration and release.
While working to seek exoneration of our clients, we have successfully advocated for the release of incarcerated clients who have gone before the parole board but maintained their innocence. Historically, the parole boards routinely denied parole to people who maintained their innocence because they were not “accepting responsibility” for crimes they did not commit. Our success so far with these advocacy letters indicates that there has been a shift in attitude at the parole boards.
The Wrongful Conviction Unit has teamed up with CUNY Law School’s Criminal Law Clinic and the Henry Lee Institute of Forensic Science to broaden its ability to represent the wrongfully convicted. Students from the clinic have teamed up on our cases and the forensic scientists routinely consult on forensic science issues. The WCU is also currently collaborating with private firms engaged in wrongful conviction litigation. WCU recently began a project where private firms are bringing appeals in the state Supreme Court where FOIL requests have been rejected by the District Attorneys’ offices and NYPD.
Part of that advocacy has been to work collaboratively with Conviction Integrity Units in the District Attorney’s Offices. Our goal is to get them each to agree to vacate our clients’ convictions – most of whom are serving life sentences. Although we have found this to be an effective strategy, we are always prepared to litigate these wrongful convictions in the courts as well.
Beginning in 2021, the NYC District Attorneys’ offices have begun dismissing our clients’ cases where the officers involved in the prosecution were convicted of crimes relating to corruption. The WCU played an integral role in bringing these convicted officers to their attention and demanding justice for our clients whose lives were impacted by these corrupt officers.
If you are innocent and have exhausted all appeals for a conviction in New York City, write to The Wrongful Conviction Unit and request our questionnaire to be considered for representation:
The Wrongful Conviction Unit
c/o The Legal Aid Society
199 Water Street
New York, NY 10038
Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Updated: 22 September 2023
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