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SLCO D.A. creates conviction review advisory board

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County’s district attorney has a new Conviction Integrity Unit to review convicts’ claims of innocence. It has been launched about a month before the election.

Two retired justices, two lawyers and a Baptist minister comprise the unit.

“We have an affirmative ongoing obligation, as ministers of justice, not only to the community but to the process itself,” said Dist. Atty. Sim Gill.

He says the panel’s recommendations could help overturn convictions. Gill promises all findings will be made public.

His election opponent, Deputy Dist. Atty. Nathan Evershed supports the unit, but added, “With it now being just four weeks outside of an election for this to now be announced, when this idea was presented years ago, I think raises eyebrows.”

Evershed said he would keep the unit if elected.

Gill says this has been in the works for years. The unit will only take claims once all court appeals have been exhausted.

Serving on the Conviction Integrity Unit are former Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Christine Durham and former Justice Judith Atherton, retired prosecutor Robert Stott, defense attorney Gilbert Athay, and Rev. France Davis, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City.