We’ve previously explained how the podcast Serial (A.K.A the cultural obsession of the moment) may have no impact on the lifetime imprisonment of Adnan Syed, the man convicted for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. However, the Maryland courts could, as Syed’s latest appeal hearing comes this January.
Time reports Syed’s lawyer, C. Justin Brown, calls this his “last best chance” at freedom. While the timing might seem convenient—with 1.5 million people tuning in weekly for Serial’s next chapter—this appeal has been in the works for some time. Brown jokes, “When I was hired to do Adnan’s appeal I was a free-wheeling single man and now I’m married with two kids. It’s been a lengthy process.”
Listeners of Serial will note the appeals case touches on some of the same issues the podcast’s host Sarah Koenig has come across in her year-long investigation into the murder of Lee and Syed’s subsequent conviction. Namely, Brown will focus on the fact that there was no witness to the murder, and that Syed’s lawyer for the initial case, the late Cristina Gutierrez, never called in a witness (Asia McClain) who could have been crucial to his defense, providing an alibi for her client.
In a soundbite fit for Serial’s broadcast, Brown wrote, “The entire trial depended on whether Syed could prove where he was at the time of the murder. Meanwhile, a credible witness — an honors student who had no obvious bias in favor of Syed — had come forward unsolicited with a recollection that she had been with Syed around the time of the murder … Yet the lawyer did absolutely nothing.”
Brown admits it is possible that The Court of Special Appeals may have been more inclined to hear this case because of the podcast, but he’s doubtful that Serial will be a determining factor in its outcome, no matter how popular it is. With no defined end to the podcast in site, it’ll be curious to see how Koenig and her crew handle this development.