HB 324: Conviction Integrity Units
This bill passed the house with a vote of 44-28, and passed the senate with a over of 24-2.
The criminal justice system is fallible and susceptible to human error. And when mistakes are made while convicting an individual, leading to an unfair trial, for example, it’s important to correct them as quickly as possible.
House Bill 324 sponsored by Representative Marsha Judkins would create a codified process allowing prosecutors to establish conviction integrity units to review cases that may have been unfairly handled. The unit would have the power to investigate innocence claims, newly discovered evidence or information that, if presented prior to sentencing, would have “resulted in a substantial probability” of different results. They could also review other information such as anything that calls juror integrity into question.
If the bill passes, individuals convicted of a crime may submit an application for the conviction integrity unit to review their case. If the unit decides to proceed with an official review, they will present findings to the overseeing prosecutor who may petition the court to vacate, reverse, or modify the person’s sentence. If a petition is filed, the individual and any victims involved in the case will receive notification of the proceedings. The court will then decide whether to dismiss the petition or hear the new information.
HB 324 is a well thought out bill to ensure a process exists to provide guidance for prosecutors around the state to review cases that may have been unfair. Nothing in the bill binds prosecutors to set up a conviction integrity unit, but if they do, they will have good guidelines to follow.