Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Adding More Context to the Allegation That Gutierrez Wouldn't Talk to 5 Witnesses for the Adnan Syed Trial
Previously, I've posted about (1) the judge at Adnan Syed's trial being disturbed by the "accusations that Ms. Gutierrez [Adnan's attorney] wouldn't talk to people;" and (2) the accusation that Gutierrez wouldn't talk to five witnesses subpoenaed by both the prosecution and defense. As I noted in a third post, one of the limited number of witnesses subpoenaed by both the prosecution and defense was Hope Schab, the French teacher at Woodlawn High School. She was subpoenaed at both of Adnan's trials, and, based upon this memorandum, it seems like she tried in vain to contact Gutierrez about testifying so that she could prepare lesson plans and arrange for a substitute teacher.
In response to these posts, some people have construed Gutierrez's failure to talk to these five witnesses as a pretty serious error. Others have claimed that Gutierrez's failure to talk to these five witnesses about mere scheduling issues wasn't a big deal and was perhaps even trial strategy. According to letters that Gutierrez herself sent to each of these witnesses, however, this latter claim doesn't seem to match the reality of the situation.
Here's a letter that Gutierrez sent to Ms. Schab in connection with the issuance of the defense subpoena for the second trial:
Letters such as this one were sent to witness subpoenaed by both sides and are valuable for two primary reasons. First, they show that these witnesses weren't simply deciding on their own to call Gutierrez; instead, they were responding to the prompts in these letters that they contact her after they receive their defense subpoenas. Second, these letters lay out the reasons for the calls. According to the letters, Gutierrez not only wanted to schedule the appearances of these witnesses; she also wanted to discuss their prospective testimony.
With at least five witnesses, those discussions ostensibly never took place. Therefore, with these witnesses, Gutierrez went into trial relying solely upon the statements that these individuals gave to the police, rather than conducting her own independent investigation.