Melissa Calusinski’s Motion for New Trial Denied

Today Judge Daniel Shanes of Lake County, IL denied Melissa Calusinski’s attorney’s motion for a new trial.

In their Motion, her attorneys argued that Dr. Manny Montez, who testified for the prosecution, made false statements about his lack of board certification by the American Board of Pathology.  According to Ruth Fuller for the Chicago Tribune and Trib Local,

During his testimony in Melissa Calusinski’s trial in November, Dr. Manny Montez, who was consulted during the boy’s autopsy, said he was not certified by the American Board of Pathology because “I have not sat before the board for the test.”

According to records obtained through a subpoena, which was read in Lake County court Thursday, Montez took but did not pass the anatomic portion of the certification exam in September 2001. But he did not take a forensic sub-specialty portion of the exam.

Calusinski’s attorney, Paul DeLuca, said Montez was not being truthful when he said he had not sat for the exam, thus denying his client her right to a fair trial.

Prosecutors argued that Montez did not misrepresent his qualifications and that the outcome would have been the same even if the jury knew he failed the board test.

“He never claimed to be board-certified,” Assistant State’s Attorney Christen Bishop said. “He said, ‘I never sat for the test,’ singular. He didn’t lie. This fact would mean nothing to the jury.”

Montez, who has a contract to perform autopsies for the Lake County coroner, could not immediately be reached for comment…

Thursday, Judge Daniel Shanes agreed with the prosecution while denying the defense’s request for a new trial.

“I do not find that Dr. Montez lied,” Shanes said, adding he didn’t believe Montez’s testimony was enough to sway the outcome of the trial.

“This is a non-issue,” he said. “It would have had the effect of an insect hurtling itself down on an 18-wheeler while it is traveling down the highway. Shakespeare said it better when he entitled his play, ‘Much Ado About Nothing.’”

Montez performs “a significant amount” of autopsies for Lake County, Yancey said, and Montez has testified in several recent high-profile trials. According to court records, he charged the county $800 for two hours of testimony in the trial of Marni Yang, who was convicted of killing Rhoni Reuter while she was pregnant with the child of former Chicago Bears player Shaun Gayle.

The denial of post-trial motions is common, but it gives the parties an opportunity to present issues to the trial judge before the case is appealed to a higher court.

Calusinski’s lawyers have already indicated that they plan to appeal her conviction and sentence.

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