Conviction Integrity Unit

The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office is dedicated to identifying potential wrongful convictions and facilitating access to post-conviction DNA testing for viable innocence claims. In 2013, District Attorney Ryan established Middlesex’s first Conviction Integrity Unit to review post-conviction claims of actual innocence.

The Unit was devised to minimize the impact of cognitive biases and respond to such claims in a fair, efficient, and comprehensive manner.

The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) is charged with reviewing claims of factual innocence, cases which challenge the integrity of the prosecution/investigation, as well as requests for post-conviction forensic testing pursuant to MGL Ch. 278A. The CIU also reviews Rule 30 motions that include a credible claim of factual innocence.

View Full Conviction Integrity Unit Protocols here.

Parties interested in submitting a case for review to the CIU can contact the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office or through letter or motion.  Contact may be made by a convicted defendant, a family member, or an attorney who represented or currently represents a convicted defendant.

It is District Attorney Ryan’s firm belief that basic fairness requires that prosecutors’ offices be willing to step back and review their work. The Middlesex District Attorney's Office is committed to assuring the integrity of all convictions in Middlesex County.  If you have any questions about the work of the CIU, or are inquiring about the status of matter submitted for review please contact us using the information below.

Post-Conviction Open File Discovery Policy

The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office (MDAO) is deeply committed to ensuring fairness and transparency in its discovery processes both pretrial and post-conviction. In recognition of this commitment, the MDAO has enacted a progressive post-conviction open file discovery policy that exceeds its obligations under the law.

Unlike pretrial discovery pursuant to Mass. R. Crim. P. 14, post-conviction discovery is not automatic. Under Mass. R. Crim. P. 30(c)(4), a defendant must file a motion and affidavits that establish a prima facie case for post-conviction relief before the court may, in its discretion, authorize discovery. However, the MDAO recognizes that, in order to make such a prima facie showing, a defendant may need to receive basic discovery from the Commonwealth’s file.

As such, even in the absence of an initial showing by the defendant of a prima facie case for post-conviction relief, the MDAO will make all reasonable efforts to provide a defendant who presents a plausible claim of factual innocence or wrongful conviction with access to evidence currently in its case file in order to ensure the defendant is able to properly prepare for and explore legal challenges to their conviction.

View the full Post-Conviction Open File Discovery Policy here.

Download Application for Review

Conviction Integrity Unit Application for Review

Unidad a Cargo de Preservar la Integridad de las Condenas Solicitud para una Investigación

Contact the Conviction Integrity Unit: 

Phone: 781-897-8377

Fax:     781-897-8324


By mail at:

Conviction Integrity Unit
Middlesex District Attorney's Office
15 Commonwealth Avenue
Woburn, MA 01801

Sara DeSimone, Director

The Massachusetts Conviction Integrity Working Group (MCIWG)

The Massachusetts Conviction Integrity Working Group (MCIWG), established by the MBA in September 2018, includes Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan and Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz, leaders from the Attorney General’s Office and the MBA, representatives from the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, senior trial counsel and an innocence program attorney from the Committee for Public Counsel Services, a former judge, a leading civil rights attorney, the director of the Boston College Innocence Program, the executive director of the New England Innocence Project, and the former executive director of Prisoners’ Legal Services.

In March 2021, this group released a comprehensive guide, urging all 11 state district attorney offices and the Attorney General’s Office to maintain effective conviction integrity programs to prevent and remedy wrongful convictions and other miscarriages of justice in Massachusetts.

Recognizing that it is a prosecutor’s highest obligation to ensure that justice is done and to do so in a way that gives the public trust and confidence in our work, this guide serves as an important resource. We hope that it will help all offices to develop their own model of an effective conviction integrity program.

View the guide here: Conviction Integrity Programs: A guide to best practices for prosecutorial offices March 2021

278A Working Group Membership

Also in 2013, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office joined forces with CPCS, the New England Innocence Project, the Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory, the Suffolk District Attorney’s Office, and the Middlesex Superior Clerk’s Office to collectively implement Chapter 278A, which deals with post-conviction access to forensic and scientific analysis (enacted in 2012).

Some of the Working Group’s efforts to date include:

  • Development of a Best Practices Manual for Evidence Collection, Handling, Storage and Retention. Click here to view. 
  • An agreement among the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, CPCS, the New England Innocence Project and the MA State Police Crime Lab to streamline access to information about evidence in the lab’s possession. This agreement allows access to initial discovery in Middlesex County cases without engaging in litigation
  • Securing grant funding to support police departments in conducting inventories of their evidence to improve access to evidence for testing in the future
  • Trainings for attorneys on preparing 278A motions and training for evidence officers to promote uniform protocols and practices for evidence handling, storing, and preservation.
  • A pilot hair microscopy case identification project

View Full Guidelines for Responding to Motions for Forensic Testing.