Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2010, $138,790)
The purpose of the Wrongful Conviction Review Program is to provide high quality and efficient representation for potentially wrongfully convicted defendants in post-conviction claims of innocence. This program is funded under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (Pub. L. 111-117). Post-conviction innocence claims are likely to include complex challenges to the reliability or accuracy of evidence presented at trial which fall mainly into three categories: eyewitness identification evidence; confession evidence; and forensic evidence. The goals of this initiative are to: provide quality representation to those who may have been wrongfully convicted; alleviate burdens placed on the criminal justice system through costly and prolonged post-conviction litigation; and identify, whenever possible, the actual perpetrator of the crime.
Georgia Innocence Project (GIP) will use FY 2010 Wrongful Prosecution Review funding in the amount of $138,790 for the processing of post-conviction claims of innocence in Georgia and Alabama. GIP does not address sentencing or procedural issues or other kinds of cases. GIP works only on those cases where scientific testing was not conducted at trial (due to lack of technology or negligence to test) and which could prove actual innocence. Thus, the lack of attorney staffing to supervise the processing and litigation of innocence claims is GIP's primary operational problem. GIP will hire an additional attorney, who would share the supervision and litigation burden equally with the existing attorney under the organization's current model. Georgia cases and non-capital Alabama cases have suffered in that the investigation and litigation of those claims has slowed due to the focus on Alabama capital cases. Adding another attorney to the staff to supervise investigation and execute litigation would allow GIP to resume its previously successful pace of completing the vast majority of cases (through testing or closure) within two years. Resuming regular speed under GIP's previously-successful model would improve the quality of representation through increased efficiency, and filing motions in the Alabama cases in the mandated time frame would serve the administration of justice. In addition to the administration of justice through the exoneration of the innocent, the criminal justice system will be improved through the identification of the true perpetrators in some of these cases, and through the gathering of additional data on the causes of wrongful conviction, using the cases of the exonerated as the source material.