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CPCS Innocence Program

Description of the Program
The purpose of the CPCS Innocence Program is to obtain exonerations for indigent Massachusetts state defendants who are actually innocent of the crimes of which they have been convicted. Defendants are actually innocent if no crime was committed or if someone else committed the crime in question. The Program seeks to: (1) identify potentially meritorious Massachusetts innocence claims; (2) assign experienced attorneys to litigate such claims, (3) supervise and train lawyers handling innocence cases, and (4) administer funds to support post-conviction investigation, forensic consultation and testing. A case may be eligible for assistance from the CPCS Innocence Program whether or not DNA evidence might be available to establish innocence. Highest priority is given to cases involving serious felonies for which the defendant is currently serving a substantial sentence.

To learn more about the central causes of wrongful convictions and suggested reforms to prevent future injustice Click Here

The CPCS Innocence Program is part of the CPCS Private Counsel Division Criminal Appeals Unit.

For additional information about the purpose and criteria of the CPCS Innocence Program, see the attached document. Innocence Program Purpose & Criteria


Contact Information:
Lisa Kavanaugh, Program Director
CPCS Innocence Program
21 McGrath Highway, 2nd floor
Somerville, MA 02143


Application Procedure
The CPCS Innocence Program currently accepts applications either directly from indigent Massachusetts state defendants or through their current or former attorneys. Completed questionnaires may be submitted either by mail or email to the Program Director.

Counsel Referral Questionnaire

Defendant Questionnaire


Expert and Investigator Funding
One of the most significant ways that the CPCS Innocence Program has been able to support innocence litigation in Massachusetts is through the creation of an Expert Funding System. The Expert Funding System, which is supported by a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, supplies an independent source of funding for attorneys seeking to secure forensic testing or investigative and expert services in support of a new trial motion based on a claim of actual innocence. The Fund is administered by the Program Director in accordance with state-approved hourly rates for expert compensation, and funds are only available after a case has been accepted by the Innocence Program. All funding requests must be approved by the Program Director in advance of the incursion of expenses. Request for Expert or Investigator Funds


Links to other Innocence Programs and Resources:

New England Innocence Project
160 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116

Innocence Project
40 Worth St., Suite 701
New York, NY 10013

Innocence Project – “Understand the Causes.” Visit this page for useful data on the causes of wrongful convictions, along with interactive videos and links to important research. 

Wrongful Convictions Blog. Follow recent developments in wrongful conviction cases in the United States and around the world.

National Registry of Exonerations. Database of 892 exonerations that can be sorted by state, crime, and cause of wrongful conviction, published in 2012 by the University of Michigan Law and Northwestern Law.

Brandon Garrett, “Convicting the Innocent: Data and Materials.” Visit the website that accompanies Brandon Garrett’s recently published book, Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong (2011), which reports a study of the first 250 DNA exonerations.

Innocence Network, Brief Bank. Collection of briefs filed in innocence cases around the country, sorted by court and innocence issue.


Links to relevant Massachusetts Legislation:

Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 30. 

M.G.L. Ch. 278A, New Law Providing Post-Conviction Access to Forensic and Scientific Analysis, eff. May 17, 2012.

Boston Bar Journal article by David M. Siegel and Gregory I. Massing describing overview of new post-conviction access law.

M.G.L. Ch. 22E, State DNA Database.

515 Code of Massachusetts Regulations 1.00, Department of State Police,
Collection, Submission, Receipt, Identification, Storage, and Disposal of DNA Samples.

515 Code of Massachusetts Regulations 2.00, Department of State Police, Testing and Analysis, Quality Assurance, Computerized Storage, Retrieval, and Dissemination for the State DNA Database.


Additional DNA and forensic resources:

For forensic expert lists, transcripts and additional substantive information, contact:
Anne C. Goldbach
CPCS Forensic Services Director
44 Bromfield Street
Boston, MA 02108
Office:  617 482-6212

CPCS Defender Links. Collects helpful links to resources on a variety of forensics and investigation-related topics.

NAS Report. National Academies Press, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward. Read a free downloadable copy of the 2009 NAS report.

Vance Report: Final Report and Recommendations Regarding Vance’s Comprehensive Operational Assessment of the Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory System, June 2007. Report details issues at the crime lab and makes several key recommendations.

Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab, DNA & CODIS units
124 Acton Street
Maynard, MA 01754
(978) 451-3300
DNA Unit

Boston Police Crime Lab

FBI fact sheet on CODIS (Combined DNA Indexing System) and NDIS (National DNA Indexing System)

Scientific Working Group for DNA. The Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods, known as SWGDAM, serves as a forum to discuss, share, and evaluate forensic biology methods, protocols, training, and research to enhance forensic biology services as well as provide recommendations to the FBI Director on quality assurance standards for forensic DNA analysis.

DNA for the Defense Bar, NIJ publication, June 2012. Latest in a series of four National Institute for Justice publications designed to increase understanding of the science of DNA and its application in the courtroom.

National Institute for Justice Publications. Searchable website containing PDF versions of publicly available NIJ publications. The DNA Initiative: Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology. Includes links to a very large number of publications for the following audiences. Complete online training module entitled Principles of Forensic DNA for Officers of the Court for an overview of issues facing criminal practitioners.

DenverDA: DNA Resource. Pro-prosecution website that contains otherwise good and updated materials on evolving DNA case law and science.

John Butler, Short Tandem Repeat DNA Internet Database
.  This website has detailed training information on DNA science, including technical information on loci/allelic sequences, primer binder region, and more.

The CPCS Innocence Program is supported by Grant No. 2009-FA-BX-0037 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance.  The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Office of Justice Program, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the SMART Office, and the Office for Victims of Crime. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not represent the official position or policies of the United States Department of Justice.