The state legislature created the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission in 2006 to deal with convicted criminals who claim they are innocent.
While court appeals are limited to specific technical problems during trial or the investigation, the commission can examine new evidence.
North Carolina is the only state to establish such an agency. The commission has eight members selected by the chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court and the chief judge of the N.C. Court of Appeals. Members include a Superior Court judge, a prosecutor, a defense attorney, a victim advocate, a sheriff and a member of the public.
If the commission agrees that there is sufficient evidence of innocence, a case is turned over to a three-judge panel to determine whether the inmate should be exonerated and set free.