EvidenceProf Blog

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

Friday, April 19, 2019

Court of Appeals of Maryland Denies the Defense's Motion for Reconsideration in the Adnan Syed Case

Today, the Court of Appeals of Maryland denied the defense's  Motion for Reconsideration in the Adnan Syed case today:

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April 19, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (8)

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Breaking Down the Innocence Network/MacArthur Justice Center Amici Curiae Brief in the Adnan Syed Case

In Tuesday's post, I noted that three amici curiae ("friends of the court") briefs were filed in support of the Motion for Reconsideration in the Adnan Syed case. In this post, I will summarize the argument made in the amici curiae brief submitted by The Innocence Network and the MacArthur Justice Center.

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April 11, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Breaking Down the NACDL Amici Curiae Brief in the Adnan Syed Case

In yesterday's post, I noted that three amici curiae ("friends of the court") briefs were filed in support of the Motion for Reconsideration in the Adnan Syed case. In this post, I will summarize the argument made in the amici curiae brief submitted by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).

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April 10, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Breaking Down the Maryland Amici Curiae Brief in the Adnan Syed Case

In yesterday's post, I focused upon the fourth argument advanced in the  Motion for Reconsideration to the Court of Appeals of Maryland in the Adnan Syed case. Today, there was some interesting news that has bearing upon the first argument made in that Motion: Three amici curiae ("friends of the court") briefs were filed in support of the Motion. In the next three posts, I will summarize the arguments made in these briefs.

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April 9, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, April 8, 2019

My First Post on the Motion for Reconsideration in the Adnan Syed Case

Today, the defense filed its Motion for Reconsideration to the Court of Appeals of Maryland in the Adnan Syed case. In this first post on the Motion, I will (1) explain how the Motion will be handled; and (2) describe (what I find to be) the Motion's most compelling argument.

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April 8, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (12)

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Episode Four of "The Case Against Adnan Syed": Did the Idea of Best Buy Come From the Police?

In Sunday's fourth (and final) episode of HBO's "The Case Against Adnan Syed," it was noted that the HBO team was able to talk with Jay Wilds in January 2019. Among other things, he told them the following:

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So, is this statement credible, and, if so, what does it mean?

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April 2, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (6)

Monday, April 1, 2019

Episode Four of "The Case Against Adnan Syed": Jay's 3:00 Visit to Woodlawn High School

In last night's fourth (and final) episode of HBO's "The Case Against Adnan Syed," there was quite possibly a major revelation. The HBO team was able to talk with Jay Wilds in January 2019, and, among other things, he told them the following:

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This chyron is correct in a sense: Jay did not mention this event in his February 28th police interview, his March 15th police interview, his March 18th ride along, his testimony at trial #1, his testimony at trial #2, or his interview with the Intercept. That said, what Jay told the HBO team is the very first thing he told police. It's also apparently something that Adnan told to the defense team. And, if true, it has major ramifications for Adnan's case.

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April 1, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (16)

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Episode Four of "The Case Against Adnan Syed": Lividity Redux

Tonight's fourth (and final) episode of HBO's "The Case Against Adnan Syed" touched upon a topic I've covered extensively on this blog: livor mortis/lividity:

livor mortis is the process by which a victim's blood pools into the tissues of the dependent (lowest) portion of the body after death. After 8-12 hours or so, this lividity becomes fixed, meaning that the pattern of pooled blood won't be changed even if the body is placed in a different position.

So, what did tonight's episode add to the analysis?

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March 31, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (16)

Friday, March 29, 2019

The DNA Report in the Adnan Syed Case

Yesterday, it was revealed that there was DNA testing done in the Adnan Syed case last year. Specifically, the State tested twelve pieces of evidence that were found on or around Hae Min Lee. Here is the report on that testing by the Forensic Sciences Division of the Baltimore Police Department:

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So, what does it all mean?

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March 29, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (17)

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Episode Three of "The Case Against Adnan Syed": Nikisha Horton

As I noted in my prior post,

In tonight's 3rd episode of HBO's "The Case Against Adnan Syed," there was a huge revelation that makes its really difficult to believe in Adnan Syed's guilt: Amy Berg showed Kristina (Kristi) Vinson her academic record from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. That record showed that Kristi was taking a short course during the Winter Term in January 1999. That class met three (or four) times on Wednesdays from 6:00-9:10pm, including on January 13, 1999, the day that Hae Min Lee disappeared. As Kristi notes, there's no way she could have blown off that class. Because the class met only three/four times, if she skipped even one of the class sessions, Kristi would have failed; instead, she got a B. Therefore, as Kristi herself concludes, there's no way that the day that Jay and Adnan came to her house was January 13th.

There was, however, a second "potentially" big revelation in the episode. This second revelation is only "potentially" big for a few reasons.

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March 26, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (9)

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Episode Three of "The Case Against Adnan Syed": The End of the Case Against Adnan Syed

In tonight's 3rd episode of HBO's "The Case Against Adnan Syed," there was a huge revelation that makes its really difficult to believe in Adnan Syed's guilt: Amy Berg showed Kristina (Kristi) Vinson her academic record from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. That record showed that Kristi was taking a short course during the Winter Term in January 1999. That class met three (or four) times on Wednesdays from 6:00-9:10pm, including on January 13, 1999, the day that Hae Min Lee disappeared. As Kristi notes, there's no way she could have blown off that class. Because the class met only three/four times, if she skipped even one of the class sessions, Kristi would have failed; instead, she got a B. Therefore, as Kristi herself concludes, there's no way that the day that Jay and Adnan came to her house was January 13th. So, what does it all mean?

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March 24, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (26)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Ninth Circuit Finds a Defendant Can Prevent His Attorney From Entering an Insanity Defense

In its recent opinion in McCoy v. Louisiana, the Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant the right to choose the objective of his defense and to insist that his counsel refrain from admitting guilt, even when counsel’s experienced-based view is that confessing guilt offers the defendant the best chance to avoid the death penalty. As I recently taught my Criminal Adjudication students, in the wake of McCoy, there are interesting questions about the extent to which it prevents "lawyer override." One of these questions was raised in the recent opinion of the Ninth Circuit in United States v. Read, 2019 WL 1196654 (9th Cir. 2019).

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March 20, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, March 18, 2019

Episode Two of "The Case Against Adnan Syed": Hae's Car

Part of last night's second episode of HBO's "The Case Against Adnan Syed" focused upon Hae's car. In this post, I will discuss the significance of what was discussed.

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March 18, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (13)

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Episode Two of "The Case Against Adnan Syed": Chris Baskerville

On tonight's second episode of HBO's "The Case Against Adnan Syed," we saw the reappearance of someone who first appeared on Episode 8 of the Serial Podcast: Chris Baskerville. Chris is known for two things from that Serial appearance: First, he told the story about Jay trying to stab him:

I gave him a knife and then he tried to stab me with it, so we were literally like fighting outside of my cousin’s house and he’s like “yo, I’m not gonna stab you deep but you never been stabbed before, you need to know what it’s like,” and I’m like “yo, I’m not gonna let you stab me.”

Second, he told a very different version of the murder and trunk pop than anyone else.

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March 17, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (20)

How a Motion for Reconsideration in the Adnan Syed Case Could Get Him a New Trial

As I noted in a prior post, the next option for Adnan Syed after the Court of Appeals of Maryland denied him a new trial is to file a motion for reconsideration with the Court of Appeals of Maryland. Two grounds for such a motion under Maryland Rule 8-605(b) are

(1) whether the Court's opinion or order did not address a material factual or legal matter raised in the lower court and argued by a party in its submission to the Court, and if not raised or argued, a brief statement as to why it was not raised or argued;...

(5) if the motion or response is filed in the Court of Appeals, whether and how the Court's opinion or order is in material conflict with a decision of the United States Supreme Court or a decision of the Court of Appeals

As I noted in my prior post, a motion for reconsideration is a real long shot, but I will use this post to articulate a strong argument for such a motion in the Adnan Syed case.

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March 17, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (7)

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Case Against Adnan Syed: the French Teacher

On Sunday's Episode One of "The Case Against Adnan Syed," Amy Berg interviewed Hope Schab, the French teacher at Woodlawn High School.

Schab

Hope Schab

In the episode, Schab partially confirms what she said at trial: that she was in effect deputized by Detective O'Shea and (1) tried to get other teachers to cooperate with the investigation; and (2) created a list of questions that she gave to Debbie so that she could distribute them to other students:

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An excerpt from Schab's testimony at trial #2.

But Schab's appearance also raised an important question.

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March 12, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (10)

Monday, March 11, 2019

Detective Massey, the Anonymous Caller & the CrimeStoppers Tipster

Yesterday was the premiere of the first episode of "The Case Against Adnan Syed" on HBO. We also just dropped our first Undisclosed episode on the series (and will release additional episodes the day after each successive episode premieres). One big topic of discussion on the podcast was the appearance of Detective Darryl Massey on the HBO series. So, what was Detective Massey's role in the case, and why was what he said last night so important?

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March 11, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (30)

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Episode One of "The Case Against Adnan Syed": Debbie and Donnie

Tonight was the premiere of the first episode of "The Case Against Adnan Syed" on HBO. For me, the biggest revelation was that Don made romantic advances on Debbie. In this post, I will break down the importance of this revelation.

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March 10, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (23)

The New Route for Adnan Syed Getting a New Trial

On Friday, the Court of Appeals of Maryland issued a 4-3 opinion denying Adnan Syed a new trial. I titled my first post on the opinion "Justice Delayed" because I regard this as a speed bump* on the route to a new trial rather than a road block. In this post, I will lay out my complete reasoning for why I believe that Adnan will eventually get a new trial.

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March 10, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (5)

Saturday, March 9, 2019

What Comes Next in the Adnan Syed Case?

So, after yesterday's opinion by the Court of Appeals of Maryland denying Adnan Syed a new trial, what's his next option? The next option is a motion for reconsideration under Maryland Rule 8-605. Such a motion must be filed within 30 days of the court's opinion, and, simply put, it asks the Court of Appeals to reconsider its opinion...with the goal of having the court issue a new or amended opinion. There are six possible grounds for a motion for reconsideration:

(1) whether the Court's opinion or order did not address a material factual or legal matter raised in the lower court and argued by a party in its submission to the Court, and if not raised or argued, a brief statement as to why it was not raised or argued;

(2) whether a material change in the law relevant to the appeal occurred after the case was submitted and was not addressed in the Court's opinion or order;

(3) whether the court's opinion determined the outcome of the appeal on an issue not raised in the briefs or proceedings below;

(4) whether there is a significant consequence of the decision that was not addressed in the opinion;

(5) if the motion or response is filed in the Court of Appeals, whether and how the Court's opinion or order is in material conflict with a decision of the United States Supreme Court or a decision of the Court of Appeals; or

(6) if the motion or response is filed in the Court of Special Appeals, whether and how the Court's opinion or order is in material conflict with a decision of the United States Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals or a reported opinion of the Court of Special Appeals.

A motion for reconsideration is a huge long shot...because you're trying to get the court to admit they made an error. That said, there is one possible ground for such a motion in this case that makes a good deal of sense and another that at least has a chance of succeeding.

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March 9, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (14)