Attorney General Matt Denn recently announced that the Delaware Department of Justice initiated an Actual Innocence Project.

Attorney General Matt Denn recently announced that the Delaware Department of Justice initiated an Actual Innocence Project, designed to ensure that there are no persons serving time in Delaware correctional facilities who have evidence that establishes their innocence.

The process will be overseen by DOJ’s Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust and will include participation from DOJ’s Criminal Division and a Special Assistant Attorney General to be appointed from outside the Department of Justice. Former Delaware Supreme Court Justice Henry duPont Ridgely, who is now senior counsel at DLA Piper, agreed to serve on a volunteer basis as the first special assistant attorney general to assist with the project. The ultimate decision as to whether to seek to reopen an inmate’s criminal matter based on proof of his innocence will remain with the Department of Justice.

The Actual Innocence Project will consider petitions from inmates who are in possession of physical, scientific or documentary evidence suggesting that they committed no criminal wrongdoing. This may include forensic evidence, audio or video evidence, electronic evidence such as email or phone records or other physical evidence. The project will not consider petitions based only on recantations or revisions of prior statements or the production of new statements.

The project is not designed to take the place of existing processes in Delaware such as the clemency process through the Board of Pardons, nor is it available to persons who claim that they were convicted of or pled guilty to a crime more serious than the one they actually committed. The project is focused on persons who claim that they are serving jail time when they in fact committed no crime.

A full description of the Actual Innocence Project is attached. Persons may obtain the written materials needed to file a petition with the Actual Innocence Project on the Delaware Department of Justice at attorneygeneral.delaware.gov/innocence.