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Fast Response for Wrongful Conviction Project

Award Information

Award #
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2009, $223,797)

This program is funded under both the Edward Byrne Memorial Competitive Grant Program (Byrne Competitive Program) and the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program. Authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2009 (Pub. L. 111-8), the Byrne Competitive Program helps local communities improve the capacity of state and local justice systems and provides for national support efforts including training and technical assistance programs strategically targeted to address local needs. The JAG Program (42 U.S.C. 3751(a)) is the primary provider of federal criminal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions, and JAG funds support all components of the criminal justice system. The JAG Program authorization also provides that 'the Attorney General may reserve not more than 5 percent, to be granted to 1 or more states or units of local government for 1 or more of the purposes specified in section 3751 of this title, pursuant to his determination that the same is necessary ' (1) to combat, address, or otherwise respond to precipitous or extraordinary increases in crime, or in a type or types of crime.' (42 U.S.C. 3756).

The Wrongful Prosecution Review Program is designed to provide high quality and efficient representation for defendants in post-conviction claims of innocence. The goals of this initiative are to provide quality representation to the wrongfully convicted, alleviate burdens placed on the criminal justice system through costly and prolonged post-conviction litigation; and identify, when possible, the actual perpetrator of the crime.

The Michigan State Appellate Defender Office ('SADO'), through its 'Fast Response for Wrongful Conviction' project, will identify and respond to legitimate post-conviction claims of wrongful conviction. The project's screening process will identify potential cases of wrongful conviction stemming from unreliable eyewitness identification evidence, possible false confession evidence, and questionable forensic evidence prior to the receipt of transcripts and the running of artificial appellate deadlines. This project will expand on an existing limited fast response pilot program at SADO for cases in one county, resulting in the release from prison and dismissal of charges for a client convicted by fabricated testimony. It will expand statewide to screen every client appointed to SADO, and to immediately respond to every potential case of wrongful prosecution with well-resourced appellate representation. The goals are to provide quality and timely representation to the wrongfully convicted, alleviating the burden and costs of protracted appeals and incarceration, and identifying cases that law enforcement may pursue to identify the actual perpetrator. The project will be coordinated with SADO's administrative office and the Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System.


Date Created: September 22, 2009