Supreme Court denies Adnan Syed's appeal for a retrial in murder case

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So much for due process

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If Mr. Syed files a federal habeas corpus petition he will be afforded a fair amount of procedural due process. I clerked for a federal judge and one of my duties was to review haebeas petitions. By the time the haebeas petition reaches a federal district court the case has been reviewed by a state’s appeals and supreme courts. The habeas appeal can also be appealed to the federal appeals court. So, there can easily be four extra bites at the apple so to speak.

Having said all that, the standards for what constitutes a fair process are quite lax. For example, one of the grounds for a heabeas appeal is ineffective assistance of counsel. In one case, even though the attorney slept through cross examination the court did NOT find ineffective assistance of counsel.

This is often, unfortunately, a hallmark of the U.S. system. People are afforded a fig leaf of procedural due process, but that procedure is not adequate.


Back in 2014 when I first listened to Serial, I can remember thinking, “this is the worst thing ever, how can the American legal system be so dysfunctional?”

Now I feel like it’s normal. Whether Syed is guilty or not (I think not) he was not treated fairly by the system and there’s nothing that can be done about it…


I feel like to change that it would take everyone involved (police, prosecutors, judges, lawmakers, etc.) to all agree that the point of the system is not to convict people but to come to just outcomes. That would be the starting point.


Kevin Urick’s interview with The Intercept:
Part 1
Part 2

I guess that makes sense in a cold, logical “triage” sort of way—given the limited time and resources of the court they probably prioritize cases that have implications beyond any one individual’s outcome. Hope the habeas proceeding in the lower court ends up bringing some resolution.

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Kav and Jay used to party together at Beach Week

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I have to admit, I really liked Serial… and then I researched into it and read the case files that were made available on reddit. It was then that I realized that Serial kind of played a bit fast and loose with the facts, some things that were broadcast were a bit lacking in information that Sarah Koenig had but chose not to run with. Multiple times after when asked about these omissions and exaggerations she said that her job wasn’t to be a journalist, but instead a storyteller. And that we were to draw our own conclusions from the story she told. One example that comes to mind was the whole “Adnan the good student.” Adnan was not a good student. His report cards were part of the files released, and they show a C and D student who was in a lot of trouble for various misconducts and nearing probationary period for skipping class. The podcast claims he was a popular student, but he was considered by many during the trial and investigations to be “a pothead and a loser.” When Hae dumped him, he sought her out many times in school, so much so that teachers would hide her from him because she was afraid of him.

For the longest time, the story was “Jay lies” and “Jay did it.” But there’s too much Jay knew to not involve Adnan, so now the belief of Sarah and her friends is that the police fed Jay the whole story in order to frame Adnan.

There’s a lot Serial knew but didn’t tell people.

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When I first heard it, I loved it. Then I fact checked it. Now I don’t love it and am kind of sad that I was misled. Which sucks, because there are a lot of people who are treated poorly by the justice system.

Adnan Syed is not one of them. My suspicion is now that he’s run out of options, he’ll “have a change of heart” and confess to the whole thing, just in time for his parole hearing.

100% of this is irrelevant to the questions whether (1) Adnan killed Hae, and (2) whether he received a fair trial at which the state proved his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Well, the full trial transcripts are available , for both the first trial which ended in a mistrial and the second tiral, as well as much of the appeals through post conviction relief… the post conviction relief reopened, and large swathes of evidence. I’m not saying you have to read them all to understand whether or not he got a fair trial. I’m saying that Serial was not honest about things that due diligence would have found out and the things they were not honest about made it appear like Adnan did not get a fair trial.

Of course, Adnan made Sarah promise that she thought he was innocent before any of it aired, so it doesn’t surprise me.

EDIT: Slight edit, after the fact. It’s also one of the reasons you’ll find that SK and Serial don’t really talk much about the first season of Serial anymore and don’t really follow the case. Sarah does privately talk about it , but she’s mostly distancing herself from things.

The things you say they were not honest about don’t look to me like they bear, one way or the other, on whether Adnan got a fair trial. Whether he was a good student, whether he was popular, and whether he was annoying to Hae after they broke up are all beside the point. Unless Maryland law has some major differences from federal evidence law, those things would all be inadmissible because they are not relevant—they do not tend to prove, one way or the other, whether Adnan was guilty of the crime of murdering Hae.

The prosecution’s case relied on the testimony of a guy who never told the same story twice, and cell phone records that the prosecution’s expert conceded (after trial) don’t mean what the prosecution said they meant. And Adnan’s alibi witness never testified. Regardless of whether Adnan actually killed Hae, those things point to an improper conviction and to ineffective assistance of counsel.

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