Thursday, July 12, 2018
Today, the Court of Appeals of Maryland granted cert (agreed to hear the appeal(s)) in the Adnan Syed case. So, what does this mean going forward?
Here is the Court's cert grant:
In other words, the Court (1) is allowing the State to argue that the Court of Special Appeals got it wrong on the alibi issue and should have found that the failure to contact Asia McClain was not ineffective assistance of counsel; and (2) is allowing the defense to argue that the Court of Special Appeals got it wrong when it found that Adnan waived his cell tower claim, which Judge Welch had previously found supported a finding of ineffective assistance of counsel.
The Court also issued a briefing order:
In other words, (1) the State has to file its brief on the alibi issue by August 21st; (2) the defense has to file its brief on the cell tower issue and its reply to the alibi issue by September 20th; and (3) the State has to file its reply brief on the cell tower issue by October 22nd. And then, even though it's not listed, the defense would have 20 days after the State's last brief to file its reply on the cell tower issue (Rule 8-502(a)(6)).
Oral arguments before the seven justices of the Court of Appeals of Maryland will then be held on (1) November 29th; (2) November 30th; (3) December 3rd; or (4) December 4th. The oral arguments will be open to the public and will also be live streamed on the Court of Appeals website. The Court of Appeals will ultimately its opinion no later than August 31, 2019, meaning the opinion could come on that date or could come in, say, March or April 2019. But the opinion won't come after August 31, 2019.
If Adnan wins either the alibi or the cell tower issue, he gets a new trial, except in the exceedingly unlikely scenario in which the United States Supreme Court agrees to hear the State's appeal and reverses. If Adnan wins on neither issue, he doesn't get a new trial, again except in the exceedingly unlikely scenario in which the United States Supreme Court agrees to hear the State's appeal and reverses.*
*Notably, if the Court of Appeals affirms COSA's finding of waiver on the cell tower issue and does not disturb Judge Welch's conclusions on the merits of that issue, Adnan would immediately file a motion to reopen his postconviction proceeding and would probably have a winning argument.