April 15, 2014: Today, District Attorney Seth Williams announced the creation of the new Conviction Review Unit which will be led by renowned homicide prosecutor Mark Gilson. The Conviction Review Unit will work the District Attorney’s Post Conviction Relief prosecutors to review and re-investigate legitimate post-conviction claims of new evidence and declarations of innocence in accordance with the Commonwealth’s Rule of Criminal Procedure.
“Mark Gilson is the perfect person to supervise this unit,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “He was referred to as the bulldog in homicide courtrooms for good reason. Not only is he a well-respected prosecutor, his investigative techniques and knowledge of the law are above reproach. ”
This new position is designed to balance the Office’s interest in investigating good faith claims of innocence with the obligation to defend valid convictions.
“This is the right thing to do,” continued DA Williams. “It is my job to uphold justice, but let’s be clear this is not a get out of prison free card for convicted felons. While we are looking at these cases with an open mind, it does not mean that we will agree with all or any new claims of innocence and or evidence. Mr. Gilson will also be working to protect valid verdicts of guilt.”
The District Attorney’s Post Conviction Relief Unit currently handles approximately 40 cases a month, roughly 500 cases a year. Of those hundreds of cases only about 3 or 4 a year are granted some sort of relief.