Syed Exoneration Shows How Hard It Is To Free Innocent People

In 2016, Adnan Syed—the man who was convicted in 2000 of murdering his high school classmate Hae Min Lee—was offered a new trial. This podcast SerialHe had doubted the pull of the levers that led to his conviction. This included the fact that the prosecution relied on poor evidence, his defense attorney not adequately representing him, as well as the fact the prosecution did not use enough.

Syed’s conviction was overturned last month. Today, Maryland prosecutors dismissed the charges. This is not the result of the new trial. You would not be able to believe that it ever happened.

However, the trial-that wasn’t is an important part of this story. This tells a lot about how long the U.S. criminal justice system has gone to ensure the integrity and fairness of wrongful convictions despite it being an absurdity.

One year and half later Serial forced new life into Syed’s case, a judge with the Baltimore City Circuit Court vacated his conviction—not to be confused with Syed’s vacated conviction this past September—and, in June 2016, ordered a retrial, citing ineffective assistance of his defense counsel. This attorney, disbarred one year later, failed to challenge the testimony of the state about the “evidence” concerning the unreliability and location of mobile towers.

This decision was confirmed by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in March 2018. The criminal justice system is very focused on the finality of sentences, so there are many procedural hurdles and deadlines that can be difficult for prisoners to follow when appealing against them. Reason‘s C.J. After that decision was made, Ciaramella took the case to court. It’s not easy to succeed when DNA testing is allowed and new evidence can be introduced.

This was in perversely prophetic as Syed failed to succeed for all of the reasons. After another wasted year, Maryland’s highest courts revoked Syed’s new trial for 2019. They acknowledged that Syed was not represented by a competent counsel, but ruled that Syed was out of luck.

The fact that the legal systems can continue withholding liberty despite valid innocence claims might seem surprising. However, it’s not the norm. Syed’s release was the exception.

Here’s an example: Syed’s conviction was overturned in spite of and not because of his appeals to innocence. It was an accident, according to a wise artist. After being sentenced as a minor, he was condemned to death in prison and applied for mercy according to Maryland’s law that allows consideration of resentence after serving at least twenty years behind bars. Lara Bazelon writes in New York Becky Feldman was the head of Baltimore City’s Sentencing Review Unit and found more to his application than a possible candidate for early freedom. In addition to the aforementioned holes in the case, it became clear that the prosecution had pinpointed two other potential suspects—one had threatened to murder Lee prior to her death—and had concealed at least one of those possible perpetrators from the defense, which is illegal.

Even more frustrating is the Why. What is the reason that the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office is refusing to try Syed? This is often what happens when convictions are overturned. The DNA evidence taken from Lee’s shoes was just tested and excluded Syed. It was not a miracle that this evidence appeared 23 years after the murder.

The Adnan Syed Case just shows you there are many other cases. [wrongful convictions]”Underside,” Bazelon tells us, an associate professor of law at University of San Francisco Reason. “The only reason he got out was because of the sheer pressure of the media attention forcing prosecutors to revisit it over and over…. [Most]You don’t have the resources and they will not be found. If we find them, then it is almost impossible for them to escape because of the procedural barriers that are placed in their path.

Syed is not the only one. Charlie Vaughn may be a case in point. This man is currently on a life-sentence for murder. Radley Balko meticulously detailed his case. As the state prioritizes procedure over claims of innocence, it’s clear that Syed is not alone. The fact that Rodney Reed will be the Supreme Court’s case today is even more relevant. This comes on the exact same day as the prosecutors dropped all charges against Syed. They will be asked: Does the state need to perform DNA testing on Reed before executing him for murder that he denies he committed?