EvidenceProf Blog

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

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Undisclosed Podcast, An Addendum to the Addendum: Additional Thoughts on Cathy's Conference

Today, we released the Addendum to the first episode of the Undisclosed Podcast. The Addendum deals with a pretty essential part of the prosecution's narrative presented at the trial of Adnan Syed for murdering Hae Min Lee on January 13, 1999. You can tell just how essential this part was by looking at this portion of the prosecution's closing argument:

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 7.56.45 PM

This portion of the closing argument deals with the trip by Adnan and Jay to Cathy's* apartment, and you can see how it was an integral part of the prosecution's case. The prosecution used the trip to Cathy's apartment to prove that: (1) Adnan was apprehensive about talking to the cops on the day that Hae disappeared in a way that concerned Cathy; (2) after talking to Officer Adcock, Adnan jumped up and left Cathy's apartment in a hurry with Jay; and (3) Adnan expedited his plan to "get rid of the body," explaining a burial in the 7:00 P.M. hour that otherwise made little sense.

The purpose of this post is to go into further detail about two parts of the Addendum:

Was Cathy's Conference the Conference on January 22, 1999?

Let's start with what we know about Cathy. First, in January 1999, she had an internship at a residential group home for adolescent boys.

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 8.01.57 AM

Second, Cathy remembers that, on the night that Jay and Adnan came over to her apartment, she had been at a conference at the University of Maryland at Baltimore from around 9:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Third, Cathy remembers this conference being a mandatory part of her internship, and she recalls it taking place at the School of Social Work

Let's now look at the School of Social Work calendar for the University of Maryland at Baltimore for December 1998/January 1999

Social Work Calendar -- January

We've posited the January 22, 1999 workshop as a good candidate for the conference that Cathy had to attend. The times line up pretty well. The subject matter of the workshop aligns with the subject matter of her internship. The whole thing makes a lot of sense. It would be like a pre-law college student interning at an employment law firm and being told to attend a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) on employment law at a local law school.

Now, could Cathy have been attending another conference at the School of Social Work on January 13th that wasn't listed in the above calendar? It's always a possibility, but an all day conference is a pretty significant thing, and nobody has been able to find documentation for such a conference. Moreover, in my role as Associate Dean, I deal a lot with planning conferences, and a one day conference in the middle of the week (January 13th was a Wednesday) is pretty rare.

Alternately, could Cathy be right about seeing Adnan and Jay on January 13th but wrong about the conference occurring on January 13th? Again, it's a possibility, but Cathy remembers Adnan and Jay coming over shortly after she got back from the conference. The two events seem pretty inextricably intertwined.

The bottom line for me is that I'm open to the possibility that Cathy attended some conference on January 13, 1999, but I feel fairly convinced at this point that she's referring to the conference on January, 22, 1999. We'll see what new information comes in, which is the benefit of this new podcast: It's already leading to new information.

What Could Defense Counsel Have Done With This Information at Trial?

I discussed this a bit on the Addendum. In its opening statement (pages 108-109), the prosecution includes the trip to Cathy's apartment as a pretty essential part of its narrative. Then, Jay, who has given many inconsistent statements, testifies about the trip to Cathy's apartment as part of his "honest" testimony at trial. Finally, Cathy gives corroborative testimony about that trip.

If we're right about the conference actually taking place on January 22nd, defense counsel could have sat back at trial and allowed all of this unfold. Then, after Cathy testified about the trip to her apartment, defense counsel could have asked asked her on cross-examination whether the conference she attended was "Social Interventions With Traumatized Children." If Cathy answered in the affirmative, defense counsel could have introduced the calendar (and possibly other evidence) showing that the conference was on January 22nd, not January 13th. And with that, Cathy's testimony would have gone up in smoke.

Defense counsel could then have re-called Jay and presented him with the same information. Jay would then either (1) stick by his prior testimony, which now conflicts with Cathy's testimony; (2) admit that he was lying or mistaken and offer some alternate explanation of what Adnan and he were doing in the 6:00 hour; or (3) admit that he was lying or mistaken and have no alternate explanation about what Adnan and he were doing in the 6:00 hour.

As I noted on the Addendum, this would have been a fairly effective form of impeachment called contradiction by other evidence. It involves calling into question the credibility of witnesses and their narrative based upon producing evidence that renders their testimony impossible. As I also noted on the Addendum, I doubt that such impeachment alone would have led to a "not guilty" verdict, but, if combined with other evidence, such as the lividity evidence, it easily could have been been part of the basis for establishing reasonable doubt.

[Update: By the way, for those wondering, Judge Judy aired every weekday at 6:00 P.M. and 7:00 P.M. in 1999.].


*Not her real name.



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From EP's Blog:
It's always a possibility, but an all day conference is a pretty significant thing, and nobody has been able to find documentation for such a conference.
5 minutes on Google:
Type: Training (Aid/Material)
Annotation: The pilot session of the Leadership Institute sponsored by the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association was held in Baltimore, Maryland, in January 1999.
Abstract: The session focused on institute goals and objectives as related to programs for abused and neglected children, leadership competencies in turbulent times, the development of leadership styles through self-awareness, the language of leadership, and group dynamics. The session also covered systems thinking in organizations, the leader's role in mission development, the creation of a positive future vision, understanding and working with resistance, conflict styles, the creation of a positive work environment, organizational diversity, creating and reinforcing values, and the development of a leadership integration plan. Descriptions of each component of the pilot session, informational materials on leadership development are included, and associated learning objectives are specified. References, notes, and figures
Note: Pilot session, January 12-16, 1999 Baltimore, Maryland
Who knows what other possibilities they overlooked?

Posted by: Shameless DumDum | Apr 20, 2015 7:25:09 PM

Did anyone bother to contact Cathy and ask her?

Posted by: theghostoftomlandry | Apr 20, 2015 7:32:46 PM

Were there calls to Adnans cell that match the 22nd and that time? Or are you arguing that Cathy made the call part up whole cloth? Or is it the whole Feb 15th thing? Are you arguing that Adnan was never at Cathy's?

Posted by: theghostoftomlandery | Apr 20, 2015 8:16:08 PM

It seems Cathy worked at the group home at the time of the 1st trial (Dec 99) but was not working at the group home earlier in the year at the time of the murder (Jan 99) (or perhaps she worked at a group home but in a different location?).

You'll notice she answers in the present tense when testifying in Dec 99 ("I work at a residential group home in Ellicott City.")
Then, from the 1st trial at page 144, on cross CG asks:
"Q: Now, back then, did you work at the group home?
A: No, I did not
Q: You worked somewhere else, did you not?
A: That's correct."

CG goes on to question her recollection, e.g., because during the police interview Cathy originally said she got home from work between 4:30 and 5:00 (not between 5:30 and 6:00). I do not see where her place of work is specifically clarified.

Posted by: [email protected] | Apr 20, 2015 8:33:11 PM

Amazing work! I'm curious- Does Adnan's cell phone records from the 22nd reflect a call around Cathy's place?

Posted by: hpeezy | Apr 20, 2015 9:10:11 PM

Trial 2 (2/16/00 at p. 205): Cathy says she was not working full or part time at the time of the murder; it's not clear from testimony that her internship was with the group home.
"Q: And were you working at that time also?
A: I think I was working part time. Oh, no, I wasn't. I was interning at that time so I wasn't working part time."

Posted by: Nine9fifty50 | Apr 20, 2015 10:12:16 PM


It looks like that day was also end of Winter term for University of Maryland students. You would think that if her conference were that day she would remember it, since it was the beginning of what appears to be yet another break (ps. Wtf. students in MD seem to have tons of time off)

Posted by: Anonynon | Apr 20, 2015 11:58:02 PM

Shameless: That’s a five day training session for CASAs. It doesn’t list a location, but CASA stuff is typically done at law schools. There’s no indication that this was done at the School of Social Work, and even conferences not affiliated with the School of Social Work were listed on the calendar, such as the Maryland Interdisciplinary Council for Children and Adolescents Conference.

Theghostoftomlandry and hpeezy: I can’t speak for anyone else involved, but, given that “Cathy” specifically wanted to remain incognito on the podcast, I didn’t feel like it was right to contact her. There was a call between Adnan and Saad on 1/22 that pinged a tower covering Cathy’s apartment. Given that Cathy testified about a call that was seemingly between Adnan and his best friend, this one could work.

Nine9fifty50: That’s interesting. I’ll have to double check to source material to see exactly where Cathy was interning in January 1999.

Anonynon: Meanwhile, 1/13 was the day before two snow days, the weekend, and MLK Jr. Day.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Apr 21, 2015 2:35:42 AM

I understand wanting to protect her privacy, but how do y'all hope to get to the truth by not talking to anyone who wanted anonymity or outright refused SK? There are some important people out there who didnt talk to Sarah.

Can you give us the details of the 1/22 call between Adnan and Saad? Incoming or outgoing? What time? Duration? Cheers

Posted by: theghostoftomlandery | Apr 21, 2015 4:27:20 AM

We've talked to Krista, and I expect we'll be talking with other people. Cathy, though, is kind of a special case given her request for anonymity.

I haven't looked closely at the cell phone data for 1/22, but it's an outgoing call during one of the airings of Judge Judy. Obviously, this doesn't align perfectly with Cathy's memory, but Cathy's memory doesn't align perfectly with the cell phone data from 1/13, and the inference that Adnan was talking with his best friend lines up much better with talking with Saad on 1/22 than talking with Aisha, Young Lee, or Officer Adcock on 1/13.

Basically, I don't know how far we can get with the cell phone data. It seems like the conference data bears more fruit. Right now, we have a definite candidate for a conference on 1/22. Right now, we don't have a definite candidate for 1/13, but I'm open to such a conference being uncovered.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Apr 21, 2015 5:37:06 AM

Why not even mention a potential key difference? The session on Jan 22nd is a workshop in a clinical setting, not a conference. There's a definitional difference between the two. And why only post one corner of one page?

Posted by: Jorge | Apr 21, 2015 5:51:24 AM

Is it your view then that the police led Cathy to the Jan 13th date, versus her volunteering that info? I was unclear on that part but maybe we just don't know yet.

Posted by: Sassy | Apr 21, 2015 5:55:26 AM

Jorge: I generally consider a workshop to be a smaller conference. I'm not sure that I see a meaningful difference there, especially when it is an undergrad referring to what she attended as a conference. Also, in the Documents page for the Undisclosed Podcast, we have excerpts from a few different calendars for the School of Social Work:


Sassy: We played the relevant audio from Cathy's recorded interview on the 1st Episode. In it, she says that she only thought Adnan came over on 1/13 because that's what the detectives told her.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Apr 21, 2015 6:18:39 AM

It continues to shock me that Adnan's defense team did not uncover and pursue this kind of information during its investigation.

Posted by: brgulker | Apr 21, 2015 6:47:28 AM

You said: "I haven't looked closely at the cell phone data for 1/22, but it's an outgoing call during one of the airings of Judge Judy."

Why would you not look closely at the cell phone data? It seems that if it supports your argument you would include it. Y'all have dissected things so minutely (and good on you for doing so) to now just casually dismiss cell records does make it appear that you are just releasing info that supports your argument and not necessarily a quest for the truth. Its clear yall have all the cell phone info. So now we know its an outgoing call to Saad. What time was the call? What was the duration? What tower did it ping? I am certainly open to it being the 1/22 conference. The question becomes this is Cathy conflating two days or did the conference and the visit happen the same day? Unless the argument is that Cathy is just making this up or going along with the police, some effort should be made to figure out of they were the same day. I don't know how you can do that by not "looking closely at the cell phone data." Honestly that is a shocking admission.

Posted by: theghostoftomlandery | Apr 21, 2015 6:53:54 AM

The cell phone data is really Susan's bailiwick. All I know is that the cell phone/tower data supports the conclusion that Adnan easily could have been at Cathy's on 1/22/99. We'll delve into the cell tower stuff in future episodes.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Apr 21, 2015 7:16:29 AM

"We'll delve into the cell tower stuff in future episodes." Surely putting out this one bit info about the call now would give this post and the Addendum more credence without hindering future episodes.

Posted by: theghostoftomlandery | Apr 21, 2015 7:34:36 AM

Thanks Colin. Just making sure I was interpreting that testimony correctly in that Cathy was guided to that date. Seems like a trend. Looking forward to part 2.

Posted by: Sassy | Apr 21, 2015 7:59:32 AM

It's important to interview "Cathy" regarding not only her recollections in relation to the catalogue but more important, "Cathy" may very well have retained related conference materials in her files re the conference she attended as a student. She may even have listed the conference on an early CV...

Posted by: Badger | Apr 21, 2015 8:18:39 AM

Anonynon - That website and calendar are from UMD not UMBC. They are different schools. I don't know if all Maryland state schools use the same calendar, but I would certainly not assume so.

Posted by: Briana | Apr 21, 2015 10:51:45 AM

First, amazing work. No matter what side the reader is on, your research and expertise are bar none.
Second, with these new revelations regarding Cathy's testimony, aren't they just proving a case for a later burial time (including supporting evidence that HML was laying prone for more than 12 hours)? Couldn't it be possible that the conversation Cathy remembers was on January 22, and Jay and Adnan left her house at that time to bury the body? I am actually a believer that Adnan is innocent, but this new revelation made me question if the prosecution had it right that Jay and Adnan buried the body, but that they just had the wrong day.... Thoughts?

Posted by: Carley | Apr 21, 2015 12:44:54 PM

Carley: I will have a post tomorrow with updated information about burial time.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Apr 21, 2015 12:59:12 PM

At one point you were positing that the Cathy visit took place after the 31st as it was suggested that Jay and Adnan had visited Cathy before or after visiting the video store. Was there a conference in February that might fit the bill? Or is it possible Jay applied to the video store on the 22nd?

Posted by: ladysleuth22 | Apr 21, 2015 3:47:32 PM

1) You forgot to redact a prominently displayed protected name in your 4:40 PM link.

2) You argue that "a one day conference in the middle of the week is pretty rare." And yet, on the very calendar page you've provided, there is a second full-day (8:30 - 4:15) workshop that took place, on Dec. 17, 1998, which it so happens was a Thursday: http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/?year=1998. So needless to say, that part of your argument just doesn't wash. 1 out of 2 is not "pretty rare". Perhaps it's rare for conferences, but not so much for workshops.

Posted by: Alex | Apr 21, 2015 5:23:33 PM

Hi Briana, The testimony she gave was that she was a student at University of Maryland at Baltimore, not UMBC. which is a bit confusing since she and Jen were supposedly sorority sisters but attended different schools...? Not sure how American Sororities work though

Posted by: Anonynon | Apr 21, 2015 8:08:46 PM

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