Litigation is the search for truth in court. Under the American adversary system, that search is most likely to be achieved by zealous advocacy before an impartial fact-finder. Citizens of Massachusetts participate every day in this process by serving as the fact finders — jurors. By evaluating the evidence presented and tested by opposing counsel at trial, jurors apply legal standards without animosity, bias, or favoritism, and decide the truth one case at a time.
Prosecutors and police officers work together in the presentation of evidence in court. Their work depends upon the efficient, capable, and honest performance of their duties. The Litigation Integrity Division assists prosecutors and police officers by establishing standards for best practices, providing continuing education, and investigating compliance issues.
District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr., formally organized the Litigation Integrity Division in 2018. Prior to that date, the functions of the division existed in various forms within the office for many years. The organizational change unified these functions into a single and separate division.
The primary function of the division is to provide confidential and candid legal advice to the District Attorney regarding the execution of prosecutions under his jurisdiction within Worcester County. Independent from other office units, the division reports directly to the District Attorney with the goal of maintaining fairness in all prosecutions.
Unlike “conviction” integrity models elsewhere, the Litigation Integrity Division is not only concerned with the result of a prosecution, but is also concerned with the fairness of the entire criminal justice process — whether or not a conviction is ultimately secured.
Please note that there are many functions beyond the purview of the Litigation Integrity Division. The division does not represent aggrieved persons, does not serve as a second jury, does not prepare statistics or reports, does not duplicate the appellate process, does not supplant police internal affairs investigations, and does not exercise any judicial powers such as rendering public opinions and judgments.
If a person questions the integrity of a prosecution in Worcester County, District Attorney Early strongly encourages that person to file a claim as soon as possible in the appropriate state or federal court or obtain the assistance of counsel. Under the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure, the legality of any criminal conviction may be challenged in court at any time. Rule 30 of those rules sets forth the following procedure to be followed to challenge any conviction. See Mass. R. Crim. Pr. 30 (b) & (c).