Adnan Syed goes before Maryland Supreme Court facing ‘specter of reincarceration,’ his lawyers say

FILE - Adnan Syed, center, leaves the Elijah E. Cummings Courthouse on Sept. 19, 2022, in...
FILE – Adnan Syed, heart, leaves the Elijah E. Cummings Courthouse on Sept. 19, 2022, in Baltimore. Attorneys for Adnan Syed, who’s now free after being imprisoned greater than twenty years in the past for the homicide of his ex-girlfriend, will as soon as once more be arguing to maintain his freedom in a case recognized to tens of millions by the true-crime podcast “Serial.”(AP Picture/Brian Witte, File)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Attorneys for Adnan Syed, who’s now free after being imprisoned greater than twenty years in the past for the homicide of his ex-girlfriend, will as soon as once more be arguing to maintain his freedom in a case recognized to tens of millions by the true-crime podcast “Serial.”

In a case fraught with authorized twists and divided court docket rulings, arguments are set to start Thursday in Maryland’s Supreme Court docket. Syed’s attorneys are interesting the reinstatement of his homicide conviction by an appellate court docket, in a case that has broader ramifications for victims’ rights in addition to Syed’s future.

Syed, 42, was launched from jail in September 2022, when a Baltimore decide overturned his conviction. Metropolis prosecutors had dropped all costs after discovering flaws within the proof.

Nevertheless, in March, the Appellate Court docket of Maryland ordered a redo of the listening to that enabled Syed to stroll out a free man. The appellate court docket mentioned the sufferer’s household didn’t obtain ample discover to attend the listening to in individual, violating their proper to be “handled with dignity and respect.”

The household of Hae Min Lee is also interesting to the state’s highest court docket, contending that crime victims in Maryland have a proper to be heard and problem the proof in hearings just like the one final yr that vacated Syed’s conviction from 2000.

He faces a minimum of the potential of being despatched again to jail, some extent his attorneys raised in court docket filings.

“The terrifying specter of reincarceration has hung over Mr. Syed’s head day by day for the previous ten months,” Syed’s lawyer, Erica Suter, wrote in a quick filed with the court docket in August.

The case may have penalties for victims’ rights. Though the appellate court docket dominated that Lee’s brother didn’t get adequate discover to attend the listening to that vacated Syed’s conviction, the court docket additionally mentioned state regulation doesn’t assure crime victims a “proper to be heard” throughout the hearings. That call falls to the presiding decide. Permitting victims to current proof or in any other case interact substantively would “lead to an enormous shift in follow,” the judges mentioned.

The Maryland Supreme Court docket isn’t anticipated to concern a ruling on Thursday. A written ruling might be filed on the court docket’s web site, though it’s unclear when.

Syed’s attorneys say the Lee household did have adequate discover in regards to the listening to. Additionally they argue that the household’s enchantment is moot, as a result of prosecutors determined to not cost Syed once more after his conviction was vacated. His attorneys contend that even when the rights of Lee’s brother, Younger Lee, had been violated, he hasn’t demonstrated whether or not the alleged violation would have modified the listening to’s consequence.

Lee, who ended up talking remotely on the listening to, was notified on a Friday afternoon that it could happen the next Monday. That was “inadequate time to moderately permit Mr. Lee, who lived in California, to attend the listening to in individual,” the appellate court docket dominated. Attorneys for Lee’s household have criticized a scarcity of transparency as properly within the court docket proceedings that led to Syed’s launch.

“Hae Min Lee’s homicide has been at concern in Maryland’s courts for practically a technology,” David Sanford, an lawyer for the household, wrote in a court docket submitting final month. He argued the state Supreme Court docket ought to ship the case to a different decide to determine whether or not to vacate the conviction or not.

This isn’t the primary time Maryland’s highest court docket has taken up Syed’s protracted authorized odyssey.

In 2019, a divided court docket dominated 4-3 to disclaim Syed a brand new trial. Whereas the court docket agreed with a decrease court docket that Syed’s authorized counsel was poor in failing to research an alibi witness, it disagreed that the deficiency prejudiced the case. That ruling got here after a decrease court docket ordered a retrial in 2016 on grounds that Syed’s lawyer, Cristina Gutierrez, who died in 2004, didn’t contact an alibi witness and supplied ineffective counsel.

In November 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court docket declined to overview the choice by Maryland’s high court docket.

Extra lately, Baltimore prosecutors went over Syed’s recordsdata underneath a Maryland regulation concentrating on so-called “juvenile lifers” as a result of he was 17 when Hae Min Lee was discovered strangled to dying and buried in a makeshift grave.

Prosecutors uncovered quite a few issues, together with various suspects and the unreliable proof of cellphone tower knowledge introduced at trial. As a substitute of reconsidering his sentence, prosecutors filed a movement to vacate Syed’s conviction fully.

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