Court reinstates Adnan Syed's conviction in 'Serial' case

A man sheds a tear as walking out of the courtoom
Adnan Syed gets emotional as he speaks to reporters outside the Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal building after a hearing, Feb. 2, in Annapolis, Md
Barbara Haddock Taylor | The Baltimore Sun via AP, File

A Maryland court did not give the family of the murder victim in the case chronicled in the hit podcast “Serial” enough time to attend a court hearing in person that led to Adnan Syed's release, a Maryland appellate court ruled Tuesday, and it ordered a new hearing to be held.

Though Syed's conviction has been reinstated, he will not be taken back into custody.

In a 2-1 decision, the Appellate Court of Maryland ruled the state's law provides victims with the right to prior notice of the hearing on a motion to vacate convictions, and that right was violated in the case of the family of Hae Min Lee, Syed's ex-girlfriend and high school classmate who died more than two decades ago.

The court ruled that giving her brother, Young Lee, only one business day before the hearing was “insufficient time to reasonably allow Mr. Lee, who lived in California, to attend the hearing in person,” and required him to attend the hearing remotely.

"Allowing a victim entitled to attend a court proceeding to attend in person, when the victim makes that request and all other persons involved in the hearing appear in person, is consistent with the constitutional requirement that victims be treated with dignity and respect," the court ruled.

The court ruled it is obligated to remedy the lower court's violations, "as long we can do so without violating Mr. Syed’s right to be free from double jeopardy."

"We can do that, and accordingly, we vacate the circuit court’s order vacating Mr. Syed’s convictions, which results in the reinstatement of the original convictions and sentence," the ruling said. “We remand for a new, legally compliant, and transparent hearing on the motion to vacate, where Mr. Lee is given notice of the hearing that is sufficient to allow him to attend in person, evidence supporting the motion to vacate is presented, and the court states its reasons in support of its decision.”

The family had asked the court for a redo of the September hearing that led to Syed's release.

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