Oral Arguments in Adnan Syed’s Appeal Begin June 1

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Nearly months since the day Adnan Syed’s 2000 murder conviction was overturned by a Baltimore City Circuit Court judge, the infamous podcast subject will get his new day in court.

June 1 is the day when oral arguments begin in Syed’s appealed case, according to the Maryland Special Courts of Appeals’ schedule. His attorney, C. Justin Brown, dropped that detail on Twitter yesterday, adding, “We will be ready.”

Syed’s murder case was the focal point of the first season of Sarah Koenig’s “Serial” podcast. In 2000, he was found guilty of kidnapping and strangling his ex-girlfriend and Woodlawn High School classmate Hae Min Lee the year before. After years of failed attempts by Syed to overturn his conviction, Koenig revisited the case in her 2014 series and drew international attention to the case.

Experts said cell phone tower evidence and an untapped alibi witness could have potentially changed the outcome of Syed’s trial 15 years earlier. His attorneys filed to re-open the case in 2015, and Judge Martin Welch granted that request on June 30, 2016, by overturning the conviction. In his ruling, Welch pointed to Syed’s original attorney’s failure to cross-examine a cell phone tower expert, which could have cast doubt on evidence prosecutors had used to convict him in 2000.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh promptly appealed Welch’s ruling giving Syed a second chance, arguing there is “no new evidence, no change in law, no material link to the original justification for remand.” Prosecutors from around the state – save for Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Cecil County – have supported the AG’s quest to keep Syed a convicted murderer.

The Court of Appeals agreed to hear the AG’s case as well, meaning prosecutors can continue arguing why Syed should still be convicted of murder while Syed’s team tries to show why he shouldn’t have been found guilty in the first place.

During the wait, Syed requested a bail review, with his team arguing he’s not a flight risk and poses no real danger to the public. Welch denied that request in December, saying it was complicated because of the state’s appeal of his ruling that overturned Syed’s original conviction and because, despite having no signs that Syed was violent based on his prior record, he might be a flight risk due to the seriousness of the charges.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals will hear arguments in both appealed cases in back-to-back slots on Thursday, June 1, according to the court’s schedule.

Interested members of the public will be able to watch oral arguments at the courthouse in Annapolis, according to a spokesman from the Maryland Judiciary’s communications office. “Except for special circumstances, court proceedings are open to the public,” he said.

Ethan McLeod
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