EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Monday, August 10, 2015

Did Adnan Know That Hae Had To Pick Up Her Cousin at Campfield?

I got an e-mail this morning asking whether Adnan knew about Hae's routine of picking up her cousin after school. Adnan, of course, says as much during the second episode of Serial. The e-mailer, however, wondered whether this was merely a claim that Adnan made in 2014 or whether he likely knew of this routine back in 1999. Let's look at the evidence.

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August 10, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (16)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Capital vs. Noncapital First-Degree Murder & The Likelihood of Getting a Bail Package

I've written a few posts in which I've tried to determine the percentage of suspects charged with noncapital first-degree murder who are given some type of bail package. As I've noted, approximately 55-60% of "murder" suspects are given some type of bail package, but "murder" includes capital murder, noncapital first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and voluntary manslaughter.

I suspect that the percentage varies across jurisdictions, but I thought I'd start with the jurisdiction that has the country's most famous homicide statute: California.

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August 7, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (9)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The U.S.-U.K. Extradition Treaty, the Doctrine of "Dual Criminality," and the Detention of Adnan Syed

Over the last few days, I've been going more in depth into the issues surrounding the denial of bail to Adnan Syed. In particular, I've posted eleven of the bail letters submitted by Adnan's fellow Woodlawn students in support of his pre-trial release. In today's post, I want to focus on one of the legal issues surrounding the detention decision.

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August 6, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (26)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Five More Bail Letters From Adnan's Classmates

I've gotten a number of e-mails from people who have greatly appreciated reading the bail letters submitted from some of Adnan's classmates at Woodlawn. In this post, I will post some more of the letters to give readers added perspective.

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August 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (26)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

DNA, Brady, and More Bail Letters From Adnan's Classmates

In yesterday's Addendum Episode of the Undisclosed Podcast, I talked a bit about the symbiotic relationship between Adnan's eventual DNA petition and his developing Brady claims. In this post, I will expand upon this point and also provide follow-up regarding yesterday's post.

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August 4, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (26)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Critiquing the State's Argument that Adnan Presented Very Few Bail Letters From His Classmates

As we noted on Episode 7 of the Undisclosed Podcast, the prosecution made the following argument at Adnan's bail review hearing on March 31, 1999:

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This seems to be yet another unsupported argument made by the prosecution.

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August 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (33)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Murder Case is First Knox County Case to Involve Drive Test Analysis of Cell Tower Pings

Here's an interesting story about a murder case out of Tennessee. According to the article,

In a legal first for Knox County, a judge will allow testimony on a controversial FBI cellular analysis method in the case of a man accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend.

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August 2, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (13)

Friday, July 31, 2015

2 More 1st Degree Murder Cases in Puerto Rico that Cristina Gutierrez Handled During Adnan's Case

Yesterday, I posted an entry about how Cristina Gutierrez was involved in four 1st degree murder cases in four different jurisdictions in 1999/2000. One of those cases was in Puerto Rico. As Susan Simpson has pointed out to me, however, Gutierrez was actually involved in two other first-degree murder cases in Puerto Rico during Adnan's second trial.

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July 31, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (16)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cristina Gutierrez Was Involved in 4 1st Degree Murder Cases in 4 Different Jurisdictions in 1999/2000

Yesterday, I posted an entry about how Cristina Gutierrez was involved in three first-degree murder cases in three different jurisdictions at the same time in 1999/2000: (1) Adnan Syed/Maryland; (2) Zachary Witman/Pennsylvania; and (3) Hector Oscar Acosta-Martinez/Puerto Rico & Federal. I expressed surprise at Gutierrez's simultaneous involvement in these cases and wondered when, if ever, an attorney had been involved in three first-degree murder cases in three different jurisdictions at the same.

As a helpful reader pointed out, Gutierrez was actually involved in four first-degree murder cases in four different jurisdictions at the same time.

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July 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (10)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Is Cristina Gutierrez Responsible for the Death Penalty in Puerto Rico?

Back in June, I did a post about a memo to Cristina Gutierrez about how another client was being billed for work done in Adnan's case. That memo was dated September 16, 1999, and the other client was Hector Oscar Acosta-Martinez. I was reminded of this fact when I came across this letter from the following week while reviewing the bail issues in Adnan's case:

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July 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (17)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Destination Unknown: More on the Cell Tower Pings From Episode 8 of Undisclosed

On yesterday's episode of the Undisclosed Podcast, I noted how Cristina Gutierrez could and should have moved for a Frye hearing regarding the admissibility of the cell tower pings at Adnan's trial. I further concluded that the result of such a hearing would have been (1) the court certainly deeming the incoming pings inadmissible based upon AT&T's own disclaimer that such pings are not reliable for determining location; and (2) the court quite possibly deeming all pings inadmissible based upon the irregularities in how the testing was done (e.g., the prosecutor selectively writing down things called out by the cell phone expert). In this post, I wanted to flesh out the analysis a bit more.

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July 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (23)

Monday, July 27, 2015

ACLU, Defense Attorneys Seek to Exclude Cell Tower Pings From Evidence in Murder Trial

According to an article in the Sentinel & Enterprise News,

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts has joined with defense attorneys in an effort to toss out a crucial piece of evidence -- the "pings" off cellphone towers -- that allegedly tie four men to the 2012 murder of a Billerica man and the motive.

Probing the cellphone records of Adam Bradley, the accused shooter, and his cousin Jason Estabrook, along with Peter Bin, Gabriel Arias and others show that from about 1 a.m. to shortly after 6 a.m. on July 7, 2012 -- the day of the murder -- the cellphones of those men hit off cell-tower locations in Billerica, prosecutors allege.

The ACLU argues investigators were required to obtain a warrant for the cell-site location information. After receiving two weeks worth of cell information, investigators argued they only needed the six hours of information to locate suspects around the time of the murder as the "critical time period."

The ACLU's brief makes this seem like an easy one. In Commonwealth v. Augustine, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held that "the tracking of the defendant's movements in the urban Boston area for two weeks [through Cell Site Location Information ("CSLI")] was more than sufficient to intrude upon the defendant's expectation of privacy safeguarded by" Article XIV of the Massachusetts Constitution. 

According to the ACLU,

Augustine determined that it is the Commonwealth’s collection of location information, not its subsequent use, which triggers Article 14 protection. Under this holding, Augustine squarely foreclosed the view that the Commonwealth can warrantlessly seek and obtain two weeks of CSLI without violating Article 14. 

Although Augustine also stated that the duration of CSLI "sought" or "request[ed]" would likely bear on "the reasonable expectation of privacy calculus," it nowhere suggested that periods of CSLI sought or requested by the Commonwealth can be excluded from that calculus if they are later deemed non-critical to a criminal case....This Court did not write that a request for two weeks of historical CSLI does not require a warrant so long as the Commonwealth is truly interested in or ultimately uses only six hours or less. Rather, it wrote that it would be "reasonable to assume that a request for historical CSLI...for a period of six hours or less would not require the police to obtain a search warrant." 

In other words, the Commonwealth has argued that it can request two weeks of CSLI without a warrant when it only plans to use 6 hours of that information. The ACLU counters that breadth of the request that matters, not the breadth of the use. Given that the Commonwealth requested and received two weeks of CSLI, this seems like an easy decision for the appellate court.


July 27, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Updated Law Review Submission Information

From Nancy Levit:

We  just updated our charts about law journal submissions, expedites, and rankings from different sources for the Fall 2015 submission season covering the 204 main journals of each law school.  

A couple of the highlights from this round of revisions are:

First, the chart now includes as much information as possible about what law reviews are not accepting submissions right now and what dates they say they'll resume accepting submissions.  Most of this is not specific dates, because the journals tend to post only imprecise statements about how the journal is not currently accepting submissions but will start doing so at some point in spring.

Second, there continues to be a gradual increase in the number of journals using and preferring Scholastica instead of ExpressO or accepting emails submissions: 22 journals prefer or strongly prefer Scholastica, 14 more list it as one of the alternative acceptable avenues of submission, and 10 now list Scholastica as the exclusive method of submission.  

The first chart contains information about each journal’s preferences about methods for submitting articles (e.g., e-mail, ExpressO, Scholastica, or regular mail), as well as special formatting requirements and how to request an expedited review.  The second chart contains rankings information from U.S. News and World Report as well as data from Washington & Lee’s law review website.

Information for Submitting Articles to Law Reviews and Journals: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1019029

July 24, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Professor Survey by Cynthia Bond

A call for information to law professors from my former colleague:


Greetings Law Teacher Colleagues:  

I am working on an article this summer on uses of popular culture in the law schoolclassroom.  I am defining popular culture broadly to include mass culture texts like movies, TV shows, popular music, images which circulate on the internet, etc, and also any current events that you may reference in the classroom which are not purely legal in nature (i.e. not simply a recent court decision). 

To support this article, I am doing a rather unscientific survey to get a sense of whatlaw professors are doing in this area.  If you are a law professor and you use popular culture in your class, I would be most grateful if you could answer this quick, anonymous survey I have put together:


Thanks in advance for your time and have a wonderful rest of summer!

Cynthia Bond

The John Marshall Law School

Chicago, IL

July 24, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Detective MacGillivary Thought That Hae Min Lee's Computer & E-mail Account Were Unimportant

commenter on yesterday's post adds additional context to my prior post about Hae Min Lee's computer. In that prior post, my tenuous conclusion was that no search of Hae's computer was done before it was returned to her family. Now, assuming that testimony given by Detective MacGillivary is correct, that conclusion becomes a lot less tenuous and a lot more troubling.

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July 24, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (36)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Why Was Adnan Syed Denied Bail After His Mistrial?

I'm glad that many readers/listeners have been so interested in the mechanics of how a court determines whether to detain or release a defendants pending trial. The decision often has a huge impact on how a defendant is able to assist in preparing his case for trial. In Episode 7 of Undisclosed, we discussed how Adnan moved to be released from incarceration after his first trial was declared a mistrial and several jurors indicated that they would have found him "not guilty." So, what happened with that motion?

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July 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (26)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sachin Pandya on Implicit Bias Testimony in Age Discrimination Lawsuit

Sachin Pandya, a Professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law, has written a very interesting blog post about a federal judge in Pennsylvania rejecting expert opinion testimony on implicit bias in an age discrimination lawsuit. The post can be found over at Workplace Prof Blog.


July 22, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

An Addendum to the Addendum: More on Bail, "Murder," and Juvenile Suspects

In last night's Addendum episode of the Undisclosed Podcast, we again discussed the denial of bail to Adnan Syed in connection with his murder prosecution. In the prior episode, I had noted that about 60% of murder suspects are given some type of bail package. That statistic came from this Bulletin by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), which noted that 40% of murder defendants are denied bail. But what exactly is a murder defendant?

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July 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (15)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Cristina Gutierrez's Refusal to Speak to Jay's Attorney & the "Magic Information"

On Friday, additional missing pages from Adnan Syed's second trial were posted. As was the case with the prior releases, these missing pages uncover further possible errors by Adnan's attorney, Cristina Gutierrez. The relevant pages here are 252-253:

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July 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (15)

Friday, July 17, 2015

Hae's Brother Comments on What Happened to Her Computer

Hae's brother Young has posted another comment:

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As was the case with his prior comment, this comment gives us some valuable additional insight into the investigation.

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July 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (28)