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Conviction Integrity Unit
In the Bexar County District Attorney's Office, we have an independent unit called the Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU). The CIU 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 conduct objective reviews of final convictions to determine whether there is some manifest injustice that may be corrected by the procedures provided by post-conviction law. This is accomplished through an open-door policy that allows for ongoing dialogue with members of the community, including defense attorneys, advocacy groups, and victims’ families. If we find a manifest injustice exists, we will address the issue and see that justice is achieved.
The CIU will consider any and all post-conviction claims that fall outside or subsequent to the direct appeal process. This includes, but is not limited to, formal filings for writs of habeas corpus, forensic testing, and clemency, as well as informal claims for equitable relief. The CIU accepts claims from any source, including innocence groups, members of the community, and otherwise. There is no claim that CIU will refuse to review or file a general denial of.
The CIU cannot re-open a case and investigate it as if it were a new case where no one has been convicted. However, the CIU will endeavor to review each and every claim with an open mind. The CIU 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. However, the CIU can refer a case to the trial court for appointment of counsel where a manifest injustice requires it. The Conviction Integrity Unit also works with advocacy groups such as the Innocence Project to facilitate discovery and help navigate post-conviction relief in Bexar County. If you are a member of an advocacy group with an interest in a Bexar County case, please feel free to contact the CIU at CIU@bexar.org regarding your case.
National Registry of Exonerations
The Convection Integrity Unit has 22 cases currently on the National Registry of Exonerations.
- Robert Cantu
- Alfred Castellano
- Calvin Day
- Carlos Flores
- Paul Forrest
- Rogelio Gutierrez
- Andre Haygood
- Rexina Linan-Juarez
- Kristie Mayhugh
- John Palmer
- Tina Pihota
- Elizabeth Ramirez
- Cassandra Rivera
- Stuart Rodrigues
- Danielle Rodriguez
- Gilbert Valdez
- Anna Vasquez
- Ersan Yurtman
- Mikhail Timofeyev
- John Cape
- Louis Garcia
- Devin Lynn
CASE REVIEW FORM
Please fill out the form below 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 –Director of the Conviction Integrity Unit
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.
Lauren D. Zamora – CONVICTION INTEGRITY ATTORNEY
Lauren D. Zamora joined the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office in 2019. Prior to joining the District Attorney’s Office, she was the managing partner at the Law Office of Lauren D. Zamora, PLLC which primarily focused on juvenile and adult criminal defense and child welfare law from 2006 to 2019. She started her legal career as a public defender with the Webb County Public Defender’s Office in Laredo, Texas. She currently serves on the Executive Board of Directors for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Texas (NAMI) and is an active member with ALTRUSA International of San Antonio.
GEORGE “HANK” WILKINS, IV – Conviction Integrity Attorney
Hank Wilkins joined the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office in 2020 and has worked in the Conviction Integrity Unit since 2021. He previously worked in the Juvenile Section of the Bexar County District Attorney’s office where he ran the 436th District Court Pre-Adjudication Drug Court. He also has experience in the City of San Antonio City Attorney’s Office in the Prosecution Division. He is a member of the Texas Bar College. His work has been published in The Texas Prosecutor journal.
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, the CIU has helped six victims obtain relief, and three have had their convictions expunged.
In 2021, the CIU partnered with the St. Mary’s University School of Law Criminal Justice Clinic to assist with post-conviction relief to the known and unknown victims of Mark Benavides. If you believe you were a victim of Mark Benavides, please contact the CIU at CIU@bexar.org.
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.
TDCJ VICTIM OFFENDER MEDIATION AND DIALOGUE
The Conviction Integrity Unit has partnered with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Victim Services Division to assist victims of crimes in using the Victim Offender Mediation and Dialogue (VOMD) [Victim Services Division - Victim Offender Mediation/Dialogue (VOMD) (texas.gov)].
If you were the victim of a crime committed in Bexar County and you would like to initiate an in-person meeting with the perpetrator who is incarcerated in a TDCJ facility or on parole/mandatory supervision, please contact the CIU at CIU@bexar.org.
THE SECOND CHANCE FOR SUCCESS PROGRAM
In September of 2021, following the exoneration of Devin Lamar Lynn, the Conviction Integrity Unit has partnered with the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless and other community agencies to launch the “Second Chance for Success” program. This internal review project is centered on a review of convictions of individuals experiencing homelessness’ convictions for potential post-conviction relief. Clients and case managers seeking assistance from the CIU should fill out the online intake form and submit it to CIU@bexar.org for review.
POST-CONVICTION DRUG REVIEW AND Bad Confidential Informants
The Conviction Integrity Unit reviews post-adjudication controlled substances cases to ensure that the substance in question was accurately examined and tested.
The CIU has investigated cases based on false information provided by a confidential informant. The unit has identified at least 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. If you suspect your case was adversely affected by a confidential informant, please contact the CIU at CIU@bexar.org.