Conviction Integrity Unit
In the Bexar County District Attorney's Office, we have an independent unit called the Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) who handles all post-conviction reviews, writs of habeas corpus, Chapter 64 motions, and clemency and commutation petitions.
The mission of the Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) is to: (1) conduct objective reviews of final convictions to determine whether there is some manifest injustice which may be corrected by the procedures provided by post-conviction law; (2) monitor emerging forensic science issues and coordinate appropriate responses; (3) serve as an advisory and training resource to prosecutors fulfilling their duties of discovery and ethical disclosures. The current Bexar County Conviction Integrity Unit is comprised of three attorneys and one paralegal.
These are the guidelines for when and how the CIU will accept cases for review: We cannot re-open a case and investigate it as if it were a new case where no one has been convicted yet. We cannot review every case where someone makes a bare claim of innocence. We will review cases in which there is new evidence, relevant evidence that went untested at the time of trial, or some other new evidence of innocence or that a person was convicted wrongfully.
This office cannot give legal advice to a defendant or a defendant's family members. It would be best to have your claim presented by a lawyer who is experienced in post-conviction criminal work. There are also Innocence Project groups throughout Texas which can be extremely helpful in presenting new claims.
CASE REVIEW FORM
Attached to this page is a form to use to submit a case (PDF) for review. Please fill out the form as completely as possible. Once it is complete, please mail the form to the address listed on the document. The more proof you can offer that a conviction was wrongful, the more likely we are to review the case. If you can provide documents that support your claims that will be helpful too. When we do accept a case for review we will be open-minded and objective.
Matthew B. Howard joined the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office in 2013, and has worked in the Conviction Integrity Unit since 2015. He has worked on multiple cases recognized by the National Registry of Exonerations, and has conducted internal investigations into forensic issues and intellectual disability in capital murder convictions. He was Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 2019. He has been a guest speaker at the Robert O. Dawson Conference on Criminal Appeals, and has spoken multiple times on post-conviction forensic motions and writs of habeas corpus.
National Registry of Exonerations
The Convection Integrity Unit has 18 cases currently on the National Registry of Exonerations.
Conviction Integrity Unit Projects
Mark Benavides Victims
Since the conviction of Mark Benavides, the Conviction Integrity Unit has been working with the Bexar County Public Defender’s Office to provide post-conviction relief to the victims of Mark Benavides. To date, six victims have received relief, and three have had their convictions expunged.
Survivors Of Domestic Violence And Sex Trafficking
On February 20, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott established a clemency application specifically for survivors of domestic violence and sex trafficking. The Conviction Integrity Unit has worked with clemency, pardon, and parole applicants to review their cases and provide letters in support where possible.
Improper Motion to Revoke Proceedings
On June 12, 2019, in Jacobs v. State, 04-18-00750-CR, the 4th Court of Appeals found that an appellant was denied due process in her revocation hearing when she was not allowed to call witnesses in her defense and that the Judge’s MTR practice was improper. The Conviction Integrity Unit worked with the Bexar County Clerk’s Office as well as the Bexar County Jail to identify inmates who had had their community supervision revoked and were serving jail time under similar circumstances. The CIU then worked with the Bexar County Public Defender’s Office to facilitate relief for those individuals.
Bad Confidential Informants
The CIU has investigated cases that were the result of information provided by a confidential informant that is now believed to be not credible. The unit has identified three affected post-conviction cases. Information was also provided to prosecutors on pending cases, as well as to law enforcement agencies to stop the use of this informant.