ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — Prosecutors are usually perceived as lawyers on a mission to get a conviction. But, that’s not always the case. 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler says it’s time for a new system designed to ensure those wrongfully convicted will be set free.
It’s called the Conviction Review Unit. It launched on Monday for those convicted of crimes in Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln Counties.
Brauchler says he created the unit because he recognizes the justice system isn’t perfect.
He has put out a call for qualified volunteers to be part of the new unit. Such volunteers could include retirees from prosecution, defense, law enforcement and former judges. Those professionals would review applications from those convicted of crimes– attempting to prove their innocence.
“What this is about is potentially the discovery of new evidence or a witness that hadn’t previously come forward,” Brauchler explained. “Something along the lines that normally wouldn’t be addressed by the appellate process.”
In other words, the unit would not review legal challenges like procedural errors. It would only review legitimate claims from people showing they shouldn’t be locked up or under community supervision.
Brauchler says the new process is fairly unique in the Denver metro. Boulder County has a different process, but one, that Brauchler says, works to achieve the same objective.
“My best guess is– and my hope is– that there are no cases that fit this bill,” Brauchler said. “But if there’s even one– just even one– we’ve got to have a process like this in place to free that person.”
No requests to review convictions had been received by late Monday. If someone is able to prove his or her innocence, Brauchler says he could petition the court to throw out the conviction or call on the governor to issue a pardon.
Those requesting a review are expected to fill out a form available on the DA’s website http://www.da18.org/conviction-review-unit/. Those hoping to volunteer, should apply on that same website.