Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes has announced that his office will review convictions that involved evidence secured by a specific police detective. This is welcome news. Similar action is being called for in Chicago.
One wonders, however, whether having acknowledged the need for review, the district attorneys should request a state commission look into these prior convictions. While it is possible that prosecutors were duped by false evidence given to them by the police, it is also possible that prosecutorial misconduct or at least willful blindness helped lead to wrongful convictions in these cases. Conviction Integrity Units could serve a useful purpose as one of several avenues for identifying potential wrongful convictions for review. But if the purpose of maintaining or restoring confidence in the criminal justice system is to be achieved or real reform enacted, New York State’s Commission on Wrongful Convictions should consider appointing an independent body to take over.