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Man whose attempted sexual assault conviction was reversed won’t be compensated; court says he fails to show he is ‘actually innocent’

December 10, 2017 GMT

LINCOLN — The Nebraska Supreme Court has rejected a Lincoln man’s claim for state compensation that stemmed from a reversal of his conviction for attempted sexual assault.

Even though Mohammed Nadeem’s 2010 conviction was overturned on appeal, he failed to show he was “actually innocent” of the charges that sent him to prison for more than two years, the Supreme Court said in an opinion released Friday.

Lincoln police arrested Nadeem in 2009 after he showed up at a library to meet a 14-year-old girl for sex. He was 22 at the time.

He had talked to the girl at the same library the day before, when he gave her his phone number. After the girl’s mother reported the incident to authorities, police listened in as the girl called Nadeem to arrange the meeting.

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The Nebraska Court of Appeals vacated Nadeem’s conviction in 2013, finding that his trial lawyer was ineffective and the trial judge failed to include a jury instruction on entrapment defense. The court ordered him released immediately, and the Lancaster County Attorney’s Office later decided against prosecuting him a second time.

In 2015 Nadeem filed a complaint seeking $500,000 in compensation under Nebraska’s wrongful conviction law. One element of the compensation law requires those making a claim to show “actual innocence of the crime.”

The district court dismissed Nadeem’s claim, saying he did not show actual innocence. Earlier this year the Court of Appeals reversed that ruling, which prompted Attorney General Doug Peterson to appeal to the Supreme Court.

In Friday’s opinion, Judge Max Kelch said the high court has previously laid out a difference between factual innocence and actual innocence. The court defined factual innocence as the absence of legal or procedural elements necessary for a conviction. Actual innocence means the person did not commit the crime.

“His complaint does not allege an absence of facts which reflects his actual innocence,” Kelch said, referring to Nadeem.

Nadeem was represented in the case by Lincoln attorney Jeff Patterson while the state was represented by Assistant Attorney General Ryan Post.

joe.duggan@owh.com, 402-473-9587