Sunday, September 8, 2013

iFramed: Case Closed

Four years ago, Vince Testa was charged and convicted in Lake County of resisting arrest. Both the arrest and conviction occurred under questionable circumstances.  Testa adamantly maintains his innocence, and there is video that supports his claim.

This year, Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim made good on an election promise, and created a Case Review Panel.  The panel was to operate independently of Nerheim; and would recommend, back to the State's Attorneys Office, convictions that should be overturned.

Testa had sent his case to Nerheim after the election and requested a review. In March of this year, Testa learned from a Chicago Tribune article that Nerheim was sending his conviction to the Case Review Panel.

Nerheim offered Testa no guidance on how to proceed. He told Testa's attorney that lawyers would not be allowed to present evidence or argument before the Case Review Panel. Testa subsequently sent a letter and his evidence directly to each panel member. It was then that Nerheim contacted Testa, asking him not to contact panel members directly but to go through his office instead.

So, Testa backed off and hoped that Nerheim's panel would at least hear from Mr. Nerheim about his case. No such luck, apparently. On July 19 of this year Michael Nerheim sent Vince Testa a letter.
Nerheim told Testa that he was not going to override Testa's case. Nerheim offered nothing in the way of an explanation other than his decision was reached after careful consideration of the facts and the law.

On July 26, Testa contacted Nerheim and asked him to reconsider.
The citizens of Lake County elected you as States Attorney for the reform you pledged to put in place with your Review Panel. Your theme was that you would restore the public's confidence in the State's Attorney's office. "A prosecutor's job should not be to merely obtain a conviction -- a prosecutor's job is to seek justice," was your campaign slogan. In my case the record of the trial and the video clearly conflict with this theme. Even the newspaper articles about your Case Review Panel raise serious questions about my case. Based on the newspaper articles and editorials, even the reporters don't see these crimes that I was convicted of, to the point where one reporter was willing to state that the police lied in my trial. With that said, and with a proof positive video that there was no crime committed by me, this conviction should be vacated.
Six weeks later, and as of this posting, Vince Testa has heard nothing further from the Lake County State's Attorneys office.

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