Penn Law’s Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice has coordinated with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, the Philadelphia Police Department, the First Judicial District Courts of Pennsylvania, and the Defender Association of Philadelphia to form the Philadelphia Event Review Team (PERT), an ongoing voluntary inter-organizational partnership that seeks to improve the fairness and accuracy of the criminal justice system. The collaboration takes a systemwide approach to examining errors in criminal justice by investigating cases that have resulted in unintended outcomes, particularly wrongful convictions.
“It’s really exciting that so many criminal justice stakeholders have come together in partnership to see what we can learn from cases where things don’t turn out the way they should, and how we can use those learnings to make Philadelphia’s criminal justice system more reliable and more just,” says Quattrone Center Executive Director and Penn Law Associate Dean John Hollway.
PERT has released its second report, which details the results of a comprehensive root cause analysis of the case of George Cortez, who was wrongfully convicted of murder and aggravated assault in 2012. In 2015, after several evidentiary issues with his trial came to light, Cortez’s convictions were vacated and he was granted a new trial. The charges against him were ultimately dropped in 2016 after another individual confessed to the shooting.
The Quattrone Center led the PERT through a thorough review of all aspects of Cortez’s case, from investigation through exoneration, using principles of sentinel event reviews and root cause analysis. Through the review process, the agencies developed a consensus understanding of what went wrong in the Cortez investigation and prosecution. The PERT’s report includes specific recommendations devised to help ensure the mistakes that led to Cortez’s wrongful conviction do not recur in the future.
Read more at Penn Law News.