Adnan Syed’s Case from 'Serial' Is Being Appealed, But He’s Been Down This Road Before
For all you Serial listeners out there, it looks like there's hope from Adnan Syed. The case of Adnan Syed of the Serial podcast is being appealed, 15 years after he was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. How many appeals has Syed been through thus far in his case? Just as the podcast underscores how many problems the American criminal justice system has, it also highlights just how confusing legal bureaucracy can be.
In a hearing scheduled for January 2015, Syed's nearly 15-year case will be revisited by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, as ABC News Reports. In 2000, when Syed was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment, he was being represented by Christina Gutierrez, who was later disbarred and then passed away of a heart attack. C. Justin Brown, Syed's current lawyer, has been working with him for over five years in the long and arduous process of court proceedings. This hearing is the last step in the three-step court process, which as Brown tells ABC news is "a trial, then an appeal, then you have post-conviction relief." That's where they are right now, but how did they get here?
According to The Daily Mail, this most recent appeal is the third in a string of attempts to revisit Syed's case. However, in the course of those two appeals, there may have been many hearings. Third-year law student and extremely thorough Redditor WritofHabeasCorpus charted the appeal process that Syed would've had to go through in getting his case to where it currently stands.
We know that in 2002, Syed made his first appeal to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, which was ultimately denied. WritofHabeasCorpus said that the next step in the direct appeals process would've been to make an appeal to the Maryland Court of Appeals. The Redditor says that this would've occurred in 2002.
It's also possible that Syed took his case to the Maryland Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court through 2002-2003 and had that appeal denied; although there's no confirmation of this happening. In a blog post written by Rabia Chaudry, Syed's friend who initially contacted Serial host Sarah Koenig about looking into the case, she says, "various lawyers have filed appeals based on faulty rulings" which suggests that the Redditor's projection of the case rings true. She continued:
Adnan loses every technical appeal. Ten years pass and we’re ready to file post-conviction through an excellent attorney who is really committed to the case.
At this stage, we know that Syed is in the post-conviction proceedings in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, as his lawyer confirmed. Chaudhry goes on to confirm that these proceedings took place in 2012, after the 10 year grace period before which no new evidence can allegedly be filed. The Daily Mail says that the last appeal that took place in Syed's case was in 2012, when his post-conviction relief petition was submitted. To place this in the timeline of podcast events, this would've been around the time that Syed's counsel was seeking out his former classmate Asia McLean to testify on his behalf. We know ultimately that this petition was denied, which leads up to where we are now.
According to a November blog post on C. Justin Brown's website, the appeal of the post-conviction petition is currently pending in court. Hence, we can surmise that this is the subject of the upcoming hearing.
To summarize, this is Syed's third technical appeal, which comes at the end of what we know to be a long and arduous journey of various hearings.
Images: Courtesy of Serial