Adnan Syed Attorney Stands By Exoneration, Says “No Basis For Re-Traumatizing” The ‘Serial’ Subject – Update

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UPDATE, with new attorney statement: Erica J. Suter, attorney for Adnan Syed, says today’s Maryland appellate court decision to reinstate the Serial subject’s convictions in the murder case of Hae Min Lee was based not on Syed’s guilt or innocence but rather on procedural issues “about notice and mootness.”

Furthermore, she said in a statement, “There is no basis for re-traumatizing Adnan by returning him to the status of a convicted felon.” She added, “For the time being, Adnan remains a free man.”

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The attorney pledged to take the matter to the Supreme Court of Maryland.

Suter, Assistant Public Defender and Director of the Innocence Project Clinic at University of Baltimore Law School, said today’s revocation of last year’s decision by Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn to vacate Syed’s 2000 murder conviction “was not about Adnan’s innocence but about notice and mootness.”

“The Appellate Court of Maryland has reinstated Adnan’s convictions, not because the Motion to Vacate was erroneous, but because Ms. Lee’s brother did not appear in person at the vacatur hearing,” Suter said. “We agree with the dissenting judge that the appeal is moot and that Mr. Lee’s attendance over Zoom was sufficient.”

In a 2-1 decision, the Maryland appellate court reinstated the convictions – at least for now – by ruling that the process by which the convictions was vacated last year violated the rights of Hae Min Lee’s brother Young Lee, who has argued that he was given less than one day’s notice prior to a crucial hearing on Syed’s release from prison. Prosecutors at the time stated that they would no longer pursue the case against Syed.

Young Lee had argued that the Baltimore state’s attorney gave him less than one business day’s notice to attend in person the hearing at which Syed’s conviction was vacated, and that the short notice didn’t allow him time to prepare a response or to attend the hearing in person. He did, however, attend via Zoom, which Syed’s attorney now says was sufficient.

“It took over two decades for prosecutors to finally acknowledge what Adnan Syed and his loved ones have been saying since day one: he did not murder Hae Min Lee,” Suter said.

“We remain optimistic that justice will be done,” Suter continued. “We intend to seek review in Maryland’s highest court, the Supreme Court of Maryland, and will continue to fight until Adnan’s convictions are fully vacated. Ensuring justice for Hae Min Lee does not require injustice for Adnan.”

Syed’s longtime supporter, attorney Rabia Chaudry, is standing by “the integrity of the evidence” that resulted in the Serial subject’s release from prison last year, and is calling on law enforcement to use DNA technology and “find Hae Min Lee’s actual killer.”

In an Instagram post following news of an Maryland appellate court panel’s decision to reinstate Syed’s murder conviction, Chaudry says, “we stand by the integrity of the evidence that exonerated Adnan and urge the Baltimore Police and States Attorney’s office to find the source of the DNA on the victims shoes and find Hae Min Lee’s actual killer.”

She later posted, “‘Give up’ is not in my lexicon.”

Chaudry will further discuss today’s court decision on Instagram live tomorrow at 10 a.m. ET. See her Instagram post from today below.

The ever-surprising case of Syed, whose murder conviction was examined in a massively popular season of the podcast Serial, took another stunning turn earlier today when the 2022 vacation of his conviction was overturned on appeal.

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The Maryland appellate court panel reinstated Syed’s conviction in the 1999 murder of his high school girlfriend Hae Min Lee. Syed, 17 at the time of the murder, was convicted of the crime in 2000, but in a surprising twist last year Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn vacated the conviction due to problems in how prosecutors had turned over evidence to defense attorneys before the original trial.

Any further action in the case, apparently including Syed’s possible return to prison, will be on hold for 60 days to allow both sides time to plan their responses.

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