Currently, no standards guide the police or prosecutors on when they should appoint new investigators to conduct post-conviction investigations. One would hope that common sense would lead them to use independent investigators—as opposed to those with conflicts of interest—without a formal rule dictating that they had to do so. Evidence, however, suggests otherwise. This Essay discusses why it is essential to institute more formal guidelines to maintain the fairness and integrity of the justice system.

In addition to the condemned inmates whose cases are often the focus of such post-conviction investigations, 140,000 inmates are currently serving sentences of life imprisonment. There is a tremendous need to ensure that everyone in prison—not just those sentenced to be executed—has been afforded a fair trial. This Essay suggests that new investigators should be assigned to all nonfrivolous claims of police or prosecutorial misconduct. The criminal justice system needs a conflictof-interest standard to ensure that only the guilty remain convicted.

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