Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Today, Adnan Syed filed his Motion to Re-Open Postconviction Proceedings. As should be clear to the readers of this blog, I agree with many of the arguments made in the motion:
-The statements made by prosecutor Kevin Urick to The Intercept could be used by the defense (blog post); and
-Precedent from across the county (including Maryland and the Fourth Circuit) supports the proposition that trial counsel is ineffective if she fails to contact prospective alibi witnesses ((blog post).
In this post, though, I wanted to highlight one other interesting part of the Motion.
As I noted in the Explainer episode of the Undisclosed Podcast, the "interests of justice" standard that the Circuit Court will use to decide whether to reopen Adnan's postconviction proceeding is the same standard that the Court of Special Appeals used to remand Adnan's case to the Circuit Court. As such, the law of the case doctrine arguably applies.
As Adnan's attorney -- Justin Brown -- notes in the Motion to Re-Open, "[t]he law of the case doctrine states that a trial court must follow an appellate judgment and cannot allow re-litigation of a matter already resolved by the appellate court." It can be argued that the Court of Special Appeals has already resolved the issue of whether it is "in the interests of justice" to reopen. As is noted in the Motion to Re-Open:
I will be very interested to see what arguments the State makes, and what precedent, if any, it cites in opposition to the arguments made in the Motion to Re-Open.