New Conviction Integrity Unit Gives Inmates Second Chance At Justice

Dec 2, 2020, 8:49 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Wrongfully accused inmates have a new chance at justice with a recently-formulated Conviction Integrity Unit through the Salt Lake District Attorney’s Office.

The Conviction Integrity Unit is another way, separate from the appellate process, to ensure justice is properly served and opens the door for those who feel wrongfully accused.

“It’s not a question about looking bad, it is about doing right,” said Sim Gill, the District Attorney for Salt Lake County.

The district attorney said he sees the new Conviction Integrity Unit as an enhancement to the judicial process.

“It is not about covering up mistakes, it’s about recognizing and having a meaningful process by which we can correct those mistakes,” he said. “If we discover something wrong, then we believe that it is our affirmative obligation to correct that, own that, and make sure justice is done.”

The Unit allows convicts a chance at having their cases reviewed by an independent advisory board made up of 2 judges; former Chief Justice of the Utah Supreme Justice Christine Durham, retired 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton; former prosecutor and Utah Assistant Attorney General, David Schwendiman; Criminal Defense Attorney D. Gilbert Athay; and community representative, Michelle Love-Day.

“The goal here is to give access to anyone who feels that the verdict was unjust, or the procedure was flawed, or there was somebody who engaged in a way that had a bearing in an unjust way,” said Gill.

The panel operates as a volunteer committee, according to Gill’s office, which means they are not paid.

On Wednesday, the unit released the results of its first case involving 41-year-old Ryan David Burke who was convicted of sexually assaulting two victims, one of them a child.

“They looked at transcript evidence, the appellate record,” said the district attorney. “They looked at the witness statements and they gave a very thorough examination of that.”

The board ultimately upheld the original conviction and published a detailed, unedited summary of their findings.

Had the board found an error in the original conviction, and if Gill’s office agreed, he said they “would move to vacate that conviction and correct that wrong.”

The effort, Gill said, is to create trust and transparency in our legal system and communities.

“It is about our inherent responsibility as public prosecutors,” he said.

If Gill were to disagree with the Conviction Integrity Unit’s findings, then he said his office would also need to provide written justification for their position.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

A rendering of a cell site simulator. (KSL TV)...
Daniella Rivera and Annie Knox

Utah placed limits on police use of spy tech; Do they go far enough?  

For months, the KSL Investigators have been asking questions about spy technology law enforcement uses but doesn’t want to talk about. What exactly does the high-tech tool do, and what happens to your information if it gets caught up in a digital dragnet?
1 day ago
Andrew Adams

USC/UCLA move to B1G leaves Utah college sports with uncertainty

USC  and UCLA, two flagship programs of the Pac-12 announced their intentions to leave their long membership with the Pac-12 to join the B1G, a power conference soon to sport universities from California to New Jersey.
1 day ago
There are five kinds of rattlesnakes that populate Utah (DWR)...
Shara Park and Larry D. Curtis, KSL TV

Utahs experiencing close encounters of the rattlesnake kind

As you make plans to head to the great outdoors this holiday weekend, you may want to heed the warning about rattlesnakes.
1 day ago
Follow @KSL_AlexCabrero...
Alex Cabrero

Utah survivor shares her story escaping sex trafficking

Board members of the Aspen Magdalene House in Salt Lake City organized this event and called it a “lunch and learn” with the goal of giving an overview of sex trafficking in Utah.
1 day ago
Ladd Egan

Utah consumer sentiment falls in June; national survey falls to lowest level in 70 years

Frustrations over inflation sent consumer confidence in Utah and across the nation to new lows in June, according to surveys from the University of Utah
1 day ago
FILE PHOTO - Shown are a smartphone and computer....
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Why you should stop using your work computers, phones for personal use

Many Utahns are still working from home, spending a lot of time on their work computers. That can make it easy to forget it's not a personal computer. But KSL's Matt Gephardt has three reasons why you should use your work computers for one thing — work.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
New Conviction Integrity Unit Gives Inmates Second Chance At Justice