Cuyahoga County

Conviction Integrity Unit

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 a nine-person unit to investigate wrongful conviction claims was established in 2014. 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 Coordinator and a Conviction Integrity Committee. The Conviction Integrity Coordinator organizes the work of the Committee and leads all re-investigations of cases that present a credible claim of actual innocence. Eight senior members of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office serve on the Conviction Integrity Committee.

Requirements for Consideration by 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 Cuyahoga County Common Pleas 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 convicted offender must waive his or her procedural safeguards and privileges, agree to cooperate with the Unit, and agree to provide full disclosure regarding all inquiry requirements of the Conviction Integrity Unit.

Review Process

Request for review must be submitted in writing to Supervising Assistant County Prosecutor Jose A. Torres, the coordinator of the Conviction Integrity Unit, and shall 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 Prosecutor’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 Resources

For more information on the Conviction Integrity Program, contact us at (216) 443-7800, or click on the links below.