What We Know About Adnan Syed's Appeal

The Serial podcast became a worldwide sensation after nearly 40 million people downloaded the series which followed the case of Adnan Syed, a young man convicted of killing his girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999. Syed was given a life sentence after the State of Maryland found Syed guilty of first-degree murder. Since the Serial podcast aired, new investigations have brought up evidence that disprove, or at least, question the original evidence of the case. However, Syed's new attorney C. Justin Brown published the first brief for an appeal on Monday afternoon at the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. The arguments in the brief are greatly based on the negligence and misconduct of Syed's first lawyer, M. Christina Gutierrez.

According to the appeal, Gutierrez, who passed away in 2003, did not investigate an alibi witness — Asia McClain who claimed to see Syed at the school library at the time of the crime. The appeal also states that Gutierrez did not offer Syed a plea bargain. According to the Baltimore Sun, "In Maryland, Syed could have accepted what's known as an 'Alford plea,' which allows a defendant to accept a plea offer without acknowledging guilt. Syed said Gutierrez agreed and later told him, 'they're not offering you a plea deal,' he said in his brief. Prosecutors have said in previous court hearings that Gutierrez never asked for a plea deal."

Here's what we know about Brown and his take on the case:

Brown's Appeal Can't Investigate New Evidence


The appeal only covers the negligence and mistrial by Syed's first lawyer.

Brown Claimed There Were Further Errors in Syed's Trial and Conviction

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As written in the appeal, "The myrder of Hae Min Lee, a Woodlawn High School student who disappeared on January 13, 1999 initially confounded investigators. There were no witnesses. There was no forensic evidence of any significance. The body was not found until nearly a month later, in Leakin Park, Baltimore."

Brown's Plea Angle Might not Hold Up

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The Maryland Attorney General's Office is currently fighting Brown's appeal and have claimed in the past that there is no evidence that Syed would have been offered a plea deal had his attorney sought one.

Brown's Professional and Legal History Are Highly Noteworthy

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With Brown on the case, Syed's appeal just may have a greater chance for success. Brown's past legal achievements include the suppression of a federal wire tap and various post-conviction victories in U.S. District Court. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Brown was a successful journalist who was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1998.

Image: serialpodcast.org