Guidelines for Collaboration and Engagement
A new report from the Quattrone Center gives guidance to prosecutors and defense lawyers seeking to work together to investigate claims of innocence. Addressing issues of ethics and logistics, this is a first-in-the-nation resource.
This project was supported by Grant No. 2018-FA-BX-K003 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.
“It should be the bedrock that you’re trying to do the right thing, the just thing, and not necessarily doing the thing that just favors your side. We’re not doing this just to correct past mistakes. We’re doing this to try to get something out that can be a road map [explaining], here is where we did something wrong, and correct it so that there are not wrongful convictions in the future.” —- Conviction Integrity Unit Lead Prosecutor
Frequently Asked Questions
The Quattrone Center Toolkit for Prosecutors
These are resources developed by Center staff and subject matter experts around the country to help prosecutors create or revamp their conviction review units. Feel free to use these templates and tools to fit your needs. If you have questions or suggestions to improve these tools, please let us know.
Forming a conviction review unit involves numerous high-level decisions from what types of cases will the unit review to when to vacate a conviction. Our discussion tool is designed to help Electeds and new unit directors make those decisions together before starting their work
It’s important to develop a conflict of interest statement for your unit. Utilize our COI tool to better understand potential policies and protocols that could be implemented in your office.
We have put together guidelines and a template for creating Cooperation Agreements between conviction review/integrity units and defense counsel. These agreements are essential to safely sharing investigative information with defense counsel and creating a respectful working relationship to conduct a joint investigation while protecting confidential information.
This sample questionnaire/petition was developed with lawyers, linguists, sociologists, and exonerees to make an application as easy as possible for applicants who are likely incarcerated to complete and return. This tool also includes information on working with pro se applicants to help ensure those without representation appreciate the issues involved in working with prosecutors.
Resources for Working with Victims and Survivors from Healing Justice
Healing Justice has created a Practitioners Checklist for victim service providers and allied professionals to ensure support and guidance for victim-centered and trauma-informed notification, as well as Eight Guiding Principles for providing notification and support to crime victims during post-conviction investigations.
Healing Justice has also created sample Information Packets for Crime Victims and an Agency Policy for your unit to adopt and distribute.
Healing Justice is a national nonprofit organization that provides support and services to crime victims and survivors in post-conviction cases. They provide training and technical assistance to prosecution agencies, victim advocates, and other criminal justice professionals. To learn more about their organization, see more resources available for practitioners, or to request training or technical assistance, visit them at their website here.
Information on Conducting Sentinel Event Reviews After Exonerations or Other Case Resolutions
Every exoneration or other case resolution gives the prosecutor a chance to learn from that systemic error - to develop ways to strengthen the system and prevent similar adverse outcomes in the future. The Quattrone Center’s Sentinel Event Reviews bring together stakeholders (law enforcement, crime laboratory personnel, prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges, corrections officials, victim advocates, and others, depending on the event) to review the event and determine — through a deliberative, transparent, non-blaming process — how and why it happened and what can be done to prevent a similar outcome in the future. For those interested in conducting an SER following an exoneration or other potential sentinel event, please contact Center Executive Director John Hollway. Reports from previous SERs are below.
- Madison Police Department Sentinel Event Review of the Department’s Responses to 2020 Protests of Police (November 2021)
- Report of the Tucson Sentinel Event Review Board (SERB) on the Deaths in Custody of Mr. Damien Alvarado and Mr. Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez (September 2020)
- Report of the Philadelphia Event Review Team on Commonwealth v. George Cortez (April 2019)
- Report of the Baltimore Event Review Team on State of Maryland v. Malcolm J.Bryant (November 2018)
- Report of the Philadelphia Event Review Team on the Lex Street Massacre (December 2015)
Other Useful Resources
- Conviction Integrity Programs: A Guide to Best Practices for Prosecutorial Offices - Massachusetts Bar Assoc. (2021)
- Conviction Integrity & Review: Key Principles and Best Practices by Fair and Just Prosecution
- Conviction Integrity Units & Internal Accountability Mechanisms by Fair and Just Prosecution
- Conviction Review Today - Prosecutor’s Center for Excellence
BJA Monthly Webinar Recordings
Every month, the Center hosts subject matter experts from around the world on topics related to post-conviction innocence investigation and litigation. The webinars open to anyone doing post-conviction work. If you are interested in participating in future webinars, please email Marissa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Intake, Triage, and Data!
- How Intake Decisions Impact Exonerations
- Pathway to Freedom - How Collaborative Work Freed Jeff Titus
- The National Registry of Exonerations: What it Is, Why it Matters
- Investigative Interviewing: The Science and Techniques
- Assisting Exonerees After Release
- Hear it from Someone Who’s Lived It: Exoneree Kenneth Nixon on what lawyers need to know
- Conducting Audits: Suffolk County CIU and NY Law School Innocence Clinic
- Supporting Victims in Post Conviction Investigations with Healing Justice
- Tracking Police Misconduct
- Handling Live Suspect Investigations: Part 1
- Handling Live Suspect Investigations: Part 2
- Cooperative Post Conviction Investigations: Lessons from Bexar County, TX
- Dr. Maria Cuellar: Understanding Forensics How Do I Know if it’s Junk
- A User Centered Approach to Legal Communication with the Incarcerated
- Autopsy of a Crime Lab: Exposing the Flaws in Forensics
- Brooklyn DA Report 426 Years: An Examination of 25 Wrongful Conviction in Brooklyn
- Eyewitness Identification Errors and Police Response
- Investigating Innocence Cases with Jim Trainum & Jim Figorski
- False Confessions Part 2
- False Confessions Part 1 : Brian Cutler
- Ethics : Professor Ellen Yaroshefsky)
- Working with Victims : Katie Monroe & Jennifer Thompson)
- Cognitive Interviewing : Steve Kleinman
- Data Collection : Paul Heaton
View full youtube playlist from the BJA Webinar series
We are happy to work with you to develop or review your internal policies and protocols, work through troubling issues, and connect you to subject matter experts on many issues. Feel free to reach out any time:
This Web site is funded in whole or in part through a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Neither the U.S. Department of Justice nor any of its components operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse, this Web site (including, without limitation, its content, technical infrastructure, and policies, and any services or tools provided).