NJ establishes statewide wrongful conviction and cold case units

David Madden
April 11, 2019 - 1:09 pm
N.J. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal

Joe Lamberti/Courier Post-USA Today Network

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TRENTON, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Two major policy changes are being implemented in New Jersey’s criminal justice system, following a year-long review by a panel of law enforcement and justice experts. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is adopting the bottom-line findings of the panel and establishing two new divisions.

A statewide conviction review unit will consider cases where someone insists they’re innocent and all appeals are exhausted. And a cold case network will look into, among other things, any convictions that the unit overturns.

"We see these two programs as two sides of the same coin with a shared commitment to finding out the truth and ensuring that justice is done in each and every case," Grewal told reporters at a Trenton news conference.

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The bottom line here is to free the genuinely innocent and get guilty people off the street.

An Essex County Superior Court Judge, Carolyn Murray, is leaving the bench to head up the review unit, with long standing claims getting the first look.

She concedes the process will evolve, and many will have to wait years for such a review.

"The goal here is to not obstruct anyone's legal rights," Murray said, "but the investigation we would do would be wide-ranging if it passed a certain threshold."

The panel's report that led to creation of these two units is available to read online. (https://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases19/Long-Fishman_Working_Group_Report.pdf)