Monday, October 3, 2022

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Adnan Syed can be tried again – Why double jeopardy does not apply to him

A Baltimore judge on Monday overturned Adnan Syed’s more than two-decade-old murder conviction, about eight years after his case was featured on the first season of the popular ‘Serial’ podcast, which cast doubt on his guilt in the death by strangulation of high school girlfriend Hae Min Lee.

Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn’s ruling found the state of Maryland violated the law by refusing to share evidence that could have bolstered Syed’s defense in the 1999 murder case, which chronicled 14 years later has divided members of the public and the legal community.

But it also represents vindication for supporters of Syed – who has vehemently claimed his innocence in the case – nearly six years after his conviction was overturned.

In 2000, Syed was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years after an accomplice in the case claimed he killed Lee and showed him his body in his car.

Syed has long maintained his innocence in the case and once refused the prospect of early release provided he pleads guilty.

In 2016, his original conviction was overturned after it was found that his defense attorney in the original case, Cristina Gutierrez, failed to contact an alibi witness on Syed’s behalf and provided a lawyer. ineffective. Several higher courts, including the United States Supreme Court, have refused to take up the case, however, leaving Syed in purgatory until Phinn’s decision on Monday.

Syed was allowed to go home alone with a GPS tracking device. However, his freedom could be temporary.

Syed now faces a new trial in the case, in which he would theoretically be given a new lawyer to defend himself against the state and the evidence against him, now 22 years old. It would mark another legal proceeding in what has already been years of appeals, and apparently another retread of already thought-out evidence.

Typically, defendants in such a case would be protected by the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution, which prohibits anyone from being prosecuted twice for the same crime. However, a new trial against Syed would prospectively be for a completely different crime, one of which he has not yet been convicted of.

According to a Sept. 14 motion to quash filed by Maryland State’s Attorney for the City of Baltimore, Marilyn J. Mosby, the evidence also includes new revelations about two other potential suspects in Lee’s death, fundamentally altering the Syed’s role in the case and, in particular, raising new questions about the largely circumstantial evidence used to convict him.

Depending on how the charges are changed – or what crimes other suspects are charged with – Syed’s role in Lee’s death could be downgraded to being incidental to the fact or some other lesser charge, which would be considered a felony. completely different from the one he was originally charged with (and convicted of).

yes And it has already been done, albeit by different means.

Probably the starkest example is that of Curtis Flowers, a Mississippi man who was tried for murder six times and had four of his convictions overturned on appeal after a number of mistrials, forcing the state to overturn his death sentences. However, Flowers was never acquitted in these cases, allowing the court to start over.

An imperfect – and hypothetical – example could be found at the federal level. In 2019, the United States Supreme Court reaffirmed a ruling that allowed states and the federal government to prosecute separate violations of one of their laws even if the two violations overlap, creating the possibility for someone to be tried twice for the same incident.

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