EvidenceProf Blog

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

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why Did the State List Mark Pusateri & "Ann" as Prospective Witnesses in its Amended Disclosure?

As Susan Simpson noted in this post, the State made its first disclosure in the Adnan Syed case on July 1, 1999. That disclosure contained the names of several prospective witnesses at trial and some witness statements. Thereafter, at various later points in time, the State filed Amended Disclosures that contained additional information. One of these Amended Disclosures was dated September 3, 1999. 

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August 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (19)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Baltimore Man Freed After 30+ Years in Prison Based on Numerous Brady Violations After Motion to Reopen

In the last night's Addendum Episode of the Undisclosed Podcast, we talked about the Richard A. Nicolas case and the State's failure to disclose two key witness statements. There was another recent case out of Baltimore that involved a similar fact pattern. It also involved a motion to reopen.

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August 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (9)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Can the State File a Petition to Reopen a Postconviction Proceeding in Maryland?

In today's Addendum Episode of the Undisclosed Podcast, I will talk a bit about Adnan's motion/petition to reopen his postconviction proceeding. In doing some research about motions/petitions to reopen, I came across an interesting case dealing with an issue that I thought would be clear but apparently wasn't: Can the State file a motion/petition to reopen after a ruling in favor of the defendant?

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August 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Krista Comments on Adnan Assigning Speed Dial Numbers on His Cell Phone

Recently, the February 24, 2000 trial transcript from Adnan Syed's second murder trial was posted. One of the witnesses who testified on the 24th was Adnan's best friend Saad. Saad had a cell phone that was very similar to Adnan's Nokia 6160. With the phone, a caller could make a call to someone who was assigned a speed dial number by simply pushing down that number (e.g., "2") for a few seconds. In Episode 6 of Serial, Adnan said that he had assigned Nisha a speed dial number, meaning that "The Nisha Call" could have been an accidental dial. 

When questioning Saad, however, Cristina Gutierrez didn't ask Saad about speed dialing; instead, she asked him about making calls using the more complicated scroll feature (page 144:

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This has led readers to ask me a question that often gets asked in this case: Did Gutierrez drop the ball?

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August 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (23)

Friday, August 14, 2015

The University of Iowa College of Law Hiring Announcement

The University of Iowa

College of Law 


August 2015 


            THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA COLLEGE OF LAW anticipates hiring several tenured/tenure track faculty members and clinical faculty members (including a director for field placement program) over the coming year. Our goal is to find outstanding scholars and teachers who can extend the law school’s traditional strengths and intellectual breadth. We are interested in all persons of high academic achievement and promise with outstanding credentials. Appointment and rank will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. Candidates should send resumes, references, and descriptions of areas of interest to:  Faculty Appointments Committee, College of Law, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa  52242-1113.

            THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants are encouraged to apply and will receive consideration for employment free from discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, religion, associational preference, status as a qualified individual with a disability, or status as a protected veteran.

August 14, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

DNA Evidence Clears Man Convicted in 1982 Based on Testimony By Jailhouse Informants

Today, there were a number of news reports about a crazy/disturbing case out of Pennsylvania. Let's go to the Innocence Project for the factual context:

On July 31, 1976, the 15-year-old murder victim’s body was discovered by a man who was picking blackberries in the woods near his home. The day before, the victim’s younger sister, who was at their home, was approached by a stranger who wanted to speak with the victim, claiming that their older brother had been injured in a car accident.  After the stranger left, the sister observed the victim, who had been at a friend’s house nearby, walking home. The victim stopped to speak with the stranger and drove away with him in his car. The younger sister provided police with a description of the stranger (which did not match Fogle) and a composite sketch was made. A few days later, a man identified the man in the composite as Earl Eugene Elderkin. Over the next five years, Elderkin, who admitted himself into a psychiatric facility, was interrogated five times about the murder. It was only after his fifth interrogation, during which he was placed under hypnosis by someone with no formal training, that he implicated Fogle.  

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August 13, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

More on Adnan Possibly Requesting a Ride From Hae After Track Practice

Yesterday, I posted an entry speculating about whether the ride that Adnan requested from Hae on January 13, 1999 could have been a ride from track practice to his house or his car. This ride would have been similar to the rides that Hae used to give Adnan from football practice. Given that Hae apparently would give Adnan rides to track practice even after their final breakup, such a scenario seemed within the realm of possibility. That said, it was claim without much support...until an hour or so later.

Soon after my post, the trial transcript from February 24, 2000 was posted. On page 32, Detective Ritz gave the following testimony:

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August 12, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (29)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Adnan's Guidance Counselor Testified That Adnan Picked Up His Rec Letter on January 13th

Today, the February 24, 2015 trial transcript was posted from Adnan Syed's second trial. On that date, there was testimony from Adnan's guidance counselor. One question that has vexed those listening to Serial and Undisclosed is whether Adnan picked up his recommendation letter on January 13, 1999, which is when the letter is dated. This transcript now answers this question (pg. 206-207):

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And then, on page 211:

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So...mystery solved. Adnan made at least one trip to the guidance counselor's office on January 13, 1999. Was that trip at 1:13 P.M., as is suggested by this attorney's note, or was that a mistake because the letter was dated 1/13? Or was the trip at about 2:45 P.M., as Debbie said in her statement? Or did Adnan go to the guidance counselor's office at both 1:13 P.M. and around 2:45 P.M. because the letter wasn't ready the first time, Adnan was following up, etc. Unfortunately, we don't know the answers to those questions.


August 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (16)

Was Adnan Requesting a Ride From Hae From Track Practice on January 13, 1999?

I've been asked a lot recently about the possibility that the ride Adnan requested from Hae on January 13, 1999 could have been a ride to track practice. As I noted again yesterday, Adnan got these rides from Hae frequently, even after they had broken up in December. What I hadn't considered until today was the possibility that the requested ride might have been a ride from track practice.

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August 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (12)

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)