As reported by everybody that got really into Serial last year—but let’s go with the Chicago Sun Times—Adnan Syed, the man whose conviction inspired the podcast, has been granted an appeal. That means a Maryland court has agreed to hear arguments about whether or not he should be given a new trial.
Serial listeners know that Syed was convicted 15 years ago of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. He has maintained his innocence ever since, though, and his most recent attempt at an appeal is based around the argument that his lawyer, Cristina Gutierrez, essentially dropped the ball and failed to give him the defense he deserved. Gutierrez was disbarred in 2001 and died in 2004, adding a couple of wrinkles to all of this. Now, though, Maryland’s Court Of Special Appeals has approved Syed’s application for an appeal, and the court will hear from Syed’s new attorney and the state in June.
Serial’s Sara Koenig, arguably the foremost expert on Syed’s cast (at least as far as podcasts are concerned), has weighed in on this development in a post on the official Serial site. She says that, instead of Adnan’s appeal being “alive by a thread,” it’s now hanging by more of a “nylon string.” As she explains it, this all means that the court believes Syed’s claims about not being given a proper trial have at least enough weight to be considered. Whether or not they’re actually valid enough for him to get a new trial—or a reduced sentence or whatever—will be determined this summer. Koenig also says that this doesn’t mean any actual movement—one way or another—is coming soon. If the judges side with Adnan, the state will appeal to a higher court. If the judges side with the state, Adnan will appeal to a higher court. As she puts it, “it’s bound to grind on for a long while yet.” Still, though, this is still a pretty big development, and an interesting epilogue to Serial.