The high-profile exoneration of David Ranta of Brooklyn, last week, has brought new recognition to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit, which helped secure his release after 23 years.
A recent column in the
New York Daily News
examines the unit, which was created by Brooklyn DA Charles Joe Hynes and is run by prosecutor John O’Mara, and revisits its beginnings.
“I reached out to the Brooklyn Bar Association, the Legal Aid Society, and to the Brooklyn Defenders Services program and asked them to present us with truly worthwhile cases of possible wrongful convictions,” Hynes says. “This is about justice, not wins and losses.”
O’Mara was overwhelmed by the response, and he uncovered many cases worthy of reinvestigation, including rape and murder cases from the Innocence Project that involve testing or retesting DNA. Inundated with cases, he brought on a former NYPD cold-case detective, Brooklyn DA Investigator Pat Lanagan. And last year, the team added deputy Taylor Koss who works the field with Lanagan.
Though few, Conviction Integrity Units are springing up across the nation. Among the most celebrated and accomplished is the Dallas County District Attorney’s unit, created in 2007, which has helped uncover injustice in a number of cases.
about the Dallas County Unit