New Cook County unit formed to review prosecutions

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CHICAGO (AP) — The Cook County state’s attorney office, long criticized in legal circles for the way it handles wrongful conviction cases, has formed a unit to review questionable prosecutions.

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CHICAGO (AP) — The Cook County state’s attorney office, long criticized in legal circles for the way it handles wrongful conviction cases, has formed a unit to review questionable prosecutions.

State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said Thursday the conviction integrity unit is a "shift in philosophy" and a desire to increase the office’s focus and openness about such cases.

Alvarez said the unit will pay particular attention to confessions by young defendants and cases that rely on a single witness.

Last year, a group of lawyers filed a "friend-of-the-court" brief on behalf of seven men convicted of murder as teens in which the lawyers contended Alvarez had a tendency to fight new trials even when evidence of innocence existed.

Since Alvarez’s election in 2008, 13 convictions have been overturned amid allegations of police wrongdoing.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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