MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The new Shelby County Justice Review Unit is “open for business,” and is already taking requests to review cases, District Attorney Steve Mulroy announced Thursday.
The county’s first-ever Justice Review Unit will independently review felony cases for wrongful convictions or wrongful sentencing. Mulroy said the point was to correct injustices.
“If you’ve got a wrongfully convicted person, that means the real criminal is still walking around the streets of Shelby County,” Mulroy said.
The unit is being led by two veteran attorneys who will carry on the caseload. Chief Lorna McClusky said only defendants and their attorneys can apply for a case review. If it meets certain criteria, there will then be an in-depth review.
“We go back to the very beginning of the case. We’ll interview witnesses. We’ll interview potential witnesses. We’ll do every single thing we can to get to the truth,” McClusky said.
Nashville has had a similar unit reviewing cases since 2016. Mulroy says more than 100 prosecutors’ offices or local governments have created conviction review units.
According to the group’s website, there are dozens of units across the country.
Memphis native Dr. William Arnold said he spent nearly seven years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of sexually exploting a child. After his case was overturned, he said a review unit in Nashville got his charges dismissed.
“That trauma. That drama that dehumanization. It essentially freed me of that stress,” Arnold said.
He believes the unit symbolizes hope for other Memphians to come home.
“There’s a lot of folks that look like me that have gone to prison and I’m sure that a lot of those folks are not supposed to be there,” Arnold said.
Mulroy, who was elected this year, made the conviction review unit a campaign promise. The new unit is funded by the DA’s office, but Mulroy said it would be independent from that office and staff would report only to him.
► Website: The Shelby County Justice Review Unit