All prosecutors want to convict the guilty, not the innocent. But while the trial and appellate process contain important safeguards for those accused of crime, we recognize that the criminal justice system is a human institution and therefore cannot be perfect.
That is why Pima County Attorney, Barbara LaWall, in October 2014, established a unit to investigate wrongful conviction claims. This Conviction Integrity Unit serves to safeguard the public and to fulfill our office’s ethical duty to seek justice in every case.
Purpose of the Conviction Integrity Unit
The mission of the Conviction Integrity Unit is to review convicted offenders’ legitimate claims of innocence. The Conviction Integrity Unit is composed of a Conviction Integrity Chief and a Conviction Integrity Committee. The Conviction Integrity Chief organizes the work of the Committee and leads all re-investigations of cases that present a credible claim of actual innocence. Senior members of the Pima County Attorney's Office serve on the Conviction Integrity Committee.
Requirements for Consideration by the CIU
In order for the Conviction Integrity Unit to conduct a preliminary review of a conviction, defendants making a claim of innocence must meet the following prerequisites:
- • The conviction must have been in Pima County Superior Court.
- • The convicted offender must be alive;
- • There must be a claim of actual innocence;
- • New and credible evidence of innocence must exist;
- • The claim must not be frivolous; and
- • The case must not still be under appellate review.
Requests for review must be submitted in writing to Supervising Deputy County
Attorney Rick Unklesbay, the chief of the Conviction Integrity Unit, and should
include the offender’s name, case number, evidence of innocence, and, if
applicable, how the Conviction Integrity Unit could look further into that
evidence. The Conviction Integrity Unit does not review non-innocence related
claims such as procedural errors at trial or ineffective assistance of counsel
that are decided by the appellate system. If the review process determines that
someone has been wrongfully convicted, the Pima County Attorney's Office will file a motion to vacate the verdict.
Note: If a defendant is currently represented by counsel, all communication with the Conviction Integrity Unit must be through that attorney.
Application and Other Information
Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters can be sent to the attention of Deputy County Attorney Rick Unklesbay, Conviction Integrity Chief, Pima County Attorney's Office, Legal Services Building, 32 N. Stone Avenue, Tucson, Arizona 85701.