Colorado Justice Review Project

The Colorado Justice Review Project (JRP) is a federally funded grant awarded to the Attorney General’s Office and the Denver District Attorney’s Office to review convictions of certain violent crimes committed in Colorado in an attempt to identify cases in which post-conviction DNA testing could possibly exonerate an innocent inmate.  The Attorney General’s JRP examines all qualifying cases originating in the 63 counties of Colorado outside of Denver; the JRP for the Denver District Attorney’s Office reviews all cases originating in Denver County. 

The JRP, funded by grants from the National Institute of Justice[1], began in 2010 and currently runs through December of 2013.  Applications have been made available to inmates incarcerated in the Colorado Department of Corrections who meet the following criteria: the inmate must have been convicted (by guilty plea or after trial) of a violent felony offense as designated by the grant; identity must have been an issue in the case; and physical evidence that would be material to the identity of the perpetrator must have been collected at the time of the crime and be currently available for DNA testing.  The qualifying offenses include: First or Second Degree Murder; First or Second Degree Kidnapping; First or Second Degree Assault; Aggravated Robbery; First Degree Arson; First Degree Burglary; Sexual Assault; or Sexual Assault on a Child (only in cases in which the victim was unknown to the inmate).

Senior attorneys and a senior investigator at the AG’s Office conduct thorough investigations of every case; however, the work of the JRP is truly a collaborative effort.  The JRP works closely with the Colorado Department of Corrections, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, members of the defense bar, the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender and the Office of Alternate Defense Counsel, law enforcement agencies across the state and, notably, with the elected District Attorney’s Offices across Colorado who, without exception, actively cooperate with the JRP requests for access to trial files and evidence. 

Such collaboration led to the JRP-led exoneration of Robert Dewey in April of 2012.  Mr. Dewey had been incarcerated for the 1994 rape and murder of a young woman in Palisade, Colorado.  The JRP investigated the case and funded the DNA that testing led to Mr. Dewey’s exoneration by the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office.

Questions about the Attorney General’s Justice Review Project may be directed to:

 

Julie Selsberg
Senior Assistant Attorney General
(720) 508-6703
Julie.selsberg@state.co.us

                                               
                                 

 


[1] This project is supported by Award No. 2011-DY-BX-K005, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.  The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed by the Colorado Justice Review Project (JRP) are those of the JRP and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.  For additional information about the National Institute of Justice’s Postconviction DNA Testing Assistance Program, go to http://www.nij.gov/nij/topics/forensics/postconviction/welcome.htm

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