November 03, 2015
Are You Listening to Undisclosed?
Posted by Christine Hurt

Like many, many people this time last year, I was fascinated by the NPR podcast Serial, a true-life police procedural plowing through the evidence and clues from a 15 year-old case.  That case ended with a mistrial and then a retrial, after which Adnan Syed was convicted of murdering his former girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, in January 1999, when both were high school seniors.  Adnan remains in prison, but because of the attention given his case, he has several hopeful avenues of appeal that are being explored.

After the podcast ended, I (like many others) had a sense of anticlimax and wanted to know more.  Mostly, I wanted an ending -- was Adnan guilty?  was the evidence so poor that he gets a new trial?  was his attorney, Christina Gutierrez incompetent, giving Adnan a new trial?   was the prosecution so sneaky that Adnan gets a new trial?  I needed more.

So, for months I've been listening to Undisclosed, a follow-on podcast created by Syed family friend and attorney Rabia Chaudry, University of South Carolina law professor Colin Miller, and lawyer Susan Simpson.  I don't have a commute, but I listen to the podcast when I run.  A new episode is posted late every Monday, give or take.  I highly recommend it.  And for all my friends who insisted after Serial that Adnan was guilty -- just wait.  One caveat:  Sarah Koenig told the story of Adnan Syed as a story.  These three legal minds on Undisclosed take apart evidence like a lawyer taking apart evidence.  Professor Miller does a good job of stopping and explaining to nonlaw audiences what Brady evidence is, what the Frye test is, and so on, but it's still fairly detail-oriented and not presented in a narrative arc.  Sometimes I wish I could run and take notes at the same time.  And, if the podcast is not enough for you, the website contains documents and Professor Miller expounds on some issues on Evidence Prof Blog.

Of course, while I'm enjoying these podcasts, Adnan is in jail, along with thousands of other defendants who may or may not be guilty, who may or may not be victims of prosecutorial misconduct, and who many or may not have had competent counsel.  The difference is that America seems to be crowdsourcing Adnan's appeal.  Two points:  one, how many other defendants will get a handful of lawyers and law professors poring over the details in their cases, along with thousands of listeners chiming in?  Second, the only reason that NPR was able to make Serial and that three lawyers could make Undisclosed is that Adnan did not plead guilty.  If Adnan had pled guilty early on in his questioning, then there wouldn't be any hope to appeal or any evidence from which to do so.  Because the vast majority of criminal defendants plead guilty, Adnan's case is fairly rare.

Law & Society | Bookmark

Recent Comments
Popular Threads
Search The Glom
The Glom on Twitter
Archives by Topic
Archives by Date
January 2019
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    
Miscellaneous Links