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Crime & Courts

Inmate blames lawyer for conviction

Former Sycamore man serving 18 years in child sex assault case

Jimmy Reiss, 42, of Sycamore, who is serving an 18-year sentence for sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl, is escorted into a courtroom at the DeKalb County Courthouse in shackles Monday for a hearing on his petition for post-conviction relief. Reiss and his attorney are asking for his sentence to be vacated on the basis that his lawyer did a poor job representing him in the trial in which he was convicted.
Jimmy Reiss, 42, of Sycamore, who is serving an 18-year sentence for sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl, is escorted into a courtroom at the DeKalb County Courthouse in shackles Monday for a hearing on his petition for post-conviction relief. Reiss and his attorney are asking for his sentence to be vacated on the basis that his lawyer did a poor job representing him in the trial in which he was convicted.

SYCAMORE – A DeKalb County judge said Monday that it will be October before he can rule on whether a man convicted of assaulting a child with Asperger’s syndrome and sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2014 should get a new trial.

DeKalb County Judge William Brady said during a hearing at the DeKalb County Courthouse that it will take months for him to thoroughly review Jimmy A. Reiss’ petition to vacate the conviction of predatory criminal sexual assault. The next hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. Oct. 29.

“Obviously, there is a lot of material that must be reviewed in preparing for the ruling,” Brady said during the hearing. “And that’s going to take an extensive period of time.”

Reiss, 46, formerly of Sycamore, was a family friend of the victim, who was 7 years old at the time of the assault in 2011, prosecutors have said. He has been an inmate at the medium-security Centralia Correctional Center.

A trial in April 2013 resulted in a hung jury, but jurors found Reiss guilty of predatory criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse after a second trial in January 2014.

Reiss claims in his post-conviction petition that a cousin also was awake and in the room at the time of the Sept. 17, 2011, incident, and that no abuse occurred.

Reiss’ lawyer, Nicholas Curran, told Brady that Reiss’ former public defender, Robert Nolan, failed to challenge the state’s expert child psychology witness, Elba Karim. Curran conceded that the state was allowed to present Karim as an expert witness, but argued the defense should have pointed out to the jury that Karim was not a licensed child psychologist.

Curran said Nolan also failed to subpoena the victim’s previous treatment records to determine whether she had symptoms of anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder before the 2011 incident.

“Mr. Nolan simply missed the mark,” Curran said.

DeKalb County Assistant State’s Attorney Alicia Caplan said Nolan took opportunities to discredit Karim by saying she gave a diagnostic impression too early and without having the victim’s prior medical records. Caplan said Nolan also asked questions where the counselor responded by saying that symptoms of Asperger’s and post-traumatic stress disorder can overlap.

“Even though he didn’t call an expert to come and point out that these were issues ... he was able to get Ms. Karim to testify about that,” Caplan said.

Reiss’ petition for post-conviction relief is his last resort. A state appellate court upheld his conviction and the state’s Supreme Court denied his appeal.

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