In October 2003, the Office of the State Attorney instituted The Justice Project. The project is a prosecution based systematic review of cases falling within defined parameters in order to determine whether DNA testing may lead to exoneration. The project’s Mission Statement best states the ideals behind the endeavor:
“Prosecutors are held to the highest legal and ethical standards in law because of our unique powers and responsibilities. The United States Supreme Court observed over sixty years ago that a prosecutor “is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done….” A prosecutor’s heightened duties are likewise reflected in the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar Rule 4-3.8 stating “[a] prosecutor has the responsibility of a minister of justice and not simply that of an advocate.” As such, a prosecutor serves two masters- society and justice. Consequently, by the nature of our position, and in order to ensure that justice, and not just a conviction, is obtained, prosecutors should not only direct the power of the government against an accused, but for an accused. Therefore, whereas DNA testing is a useful tool for establishing not only the identity of a perpetrator in criminal prosecutions but for establishing actual innocence, both ultimately the responsibility of the prosecutor, this office establishes The Justice Project and institutes the following Policy and Procedures to fulfill our aforementioned obligations.”
The DNA Compliance Task Force
Each year, the Eleventh Judicial Circuit is consistently required to collect DNA samples from more qualifying offenders than almost every other circuit in the state. The DNA Compliance Task Force ensures the timely collection of compulsory DNA samples from qualifying offenders thanks to its partnership with the Department of Corrections and the Administrative Office of the Courts. Additionally, the task force works closely with dedicated officers from the Miami-Dade Police Department to collect delinquent samples from those offenders who qualified for mandatory collection at the time of their conviction but who are no longer under the jurisdiction of the courts. The Miami-Dade Police Department police officers sweep through the county with court orders to obtain these delinquent samples, which are then sent to the F.D.L.E. for processing.