Former SADO Attorney Valerie Newman Now Director of Wayne County Prosecutor's Conviction Integrity Unit

Detroit Free Press reports on newly formed unit
Valerie Newman has battled prosecutors as an attorney at the State Appellate Defenders Office for 23 years. Now she has joined the other side – to help her former opponents avoid sending innocent people to jail. On Monday, November 13, 2017, Wayne County Prosecutor Kim Worthy announced that Newman had joined the Prosecutor’s Office as the director of the newly formed Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU). The CIU was created to prevent mistakes in prosecution and look into possible wrongful convictions. Wayne County’s is the 30th such unit in the country. The first was formed in Dallas County in 2007. Since then, CIUs have been involved in 225 exonerations, most of them in the last three years.

“No prosecutor wants to be a party to knowingly convicting or keeping someone in prison that is either factually not guilty or a case we can't sustain,” Worthy said. “We should not be afraid to have a unit like this.” Wayne County’s CIU will begin operations in January. Hiring Newman was the first step in putting the unit in place. Imran Sayed, associate director of the Michigan Innocence Clinic, commended Worthy’s office for creating the unit and for the choice of Newman as director. “Newman understands (wrongful convictions) better than anybody,” Sayed said. “As long as she’s empowered to do the right thing, I think this is off to a good start.”

Newman is a graduate of Wayne State University Law School, and she has argued hundreds of cases. She has argued two cases before the United State Supreme Court, including Lafler v. Cooper, a landmark victory in which the Court recognized the right to effective assistance of counsel during plea proceedings and which resulted in the release of multiple wrongfully convicted clients. Regarding her new position as director of the CIU Newman said, “I am honored to be leading this new cutting edge unit. I look forward to continuing my work improving the criminal justice system and investigating innocence claims.”

Read the entire Detroit Free Press Article about Newman and the Conviction Integrity Unit here.