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Conviction integrity unit created in Utah County to investigate wrongful convictions

Posted at 8:02 PM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 22:02:37-04

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — The Utah County Attorney’s office is starting a system to investigate convictions where someone might have been innocent.

Called the Conviction Integrity Unit, It consists of nine people of different backgrounds including attorneys, a judge, police chief, and other experts in various fields.

“More than anything else this is me as the elected county attorney that we need everyone's participation in this process,” Utah County Attorney David Leavitt said during an announcement of the program. “One of the highest obligations for government is to acknowledge when the government gets it wrong,” he said.

If someone believes they were innocent of the crime they were convicted of they can apply online at the Utah County Attorney’s website.

The board comes together with individual investigative power bestowed by the county attorney’s office and funding coming from the Utah County Board of Commissioners to find the facts of the case.

“Because today nearly 100% of all criminal cases are decided by plea-bargain’s and not by jury’s that means that I have… as does every other elected prosecutor in the state within our own jurisdictions nearly unfettered power,” Leavitt said, "I have said many times it is too much power to invest in one person.”

The 9 members of the board announced today are Geidy Achecar, Craig Carlile, Brett Tolman, Tanner Ainge, Dr. LaShawn Williams, LCSW, Anthony Schofield, Anne Marie Taliaferro, Chief Andrew Burton, and Stirling Adams.

The group consists of Lawyers both in and out of Utah County, A judge, police chief, and other experts in and out of legal system.

“We need everyone's perspective at the table,” Leavitt said, “Brett Tolman and Anne Marie Taliaferrio… they have been critical to the Utah County Attorney's office.”

County commissioner building also stands behind the project saying, "Its taken time… and its gone through different morphing stages but I am so thankful for his ability to look at it… see the need… understand it and say let's go forward with it and let's make it happen.”

The group says there are no cases they plan to look at as of right now, however applications are open.

As a point of clarification, Tanner Ainge has resigned as commissioner in Utah County. FOX 13 has been able to confirm that he is continuing in this role as well as moving forward to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

Read: Utah County Commissioner Tanner Ainge to step down