Friday, February 5, 2016

Adnan Syed's Post-conviction relief hearing: Day 1 and 2

              Post-conviction relief and what it means

**I realise the summary and links for Day 1 should have gone up much earlier than this, but because I am in New Zealand, with BIG timezone differences, I am asleep for some of what's going on, doing life stuff at other crucial times, and yeah....So sorry about that.

For those of you who don't understand what post-conviction relief is, it's basically the argument that a lawyer has been corrupt or incompetent and that's why the defendant lost the case, therefire the court should grant some form of post-conviction relief, essentially, a new trial. So Adnan's lawyer needs to prove that Christina Guttierez, Adnan's original trial attorney back in 2000/2001, was incompetent, and that the mistakes she made were actually mistakes and not just "strategy."  Because lawyers get -A LOT- of leeway on these things.  Proving a post-conviction relief case is apparently always quite difficult, but because Guttierez's mistakes are so glaringly obvious to anyone with a brain and a basic knowledge of the US justice system, and because she was disbarred for unethical conduct shortly before her death from multiple health issues in 2004, Adnan has a better case than most people who take this type of appeal to court.

Day 1:

Day one began with Adnan's amazing lawyer, C. Justin Brown, bringing up his first two witnesses, two lawyers who worked with Christina Gutierrez from the mid to late 90s and witnessed her obvious decline in the years leading up to her disbarment.  They testified to her spiral from very successful defense lawyer to someone who was in constant pain, mishandling client funds, passing cases off and having inexperienced law student interns carry out crucial tasks which should have been handled by an experienced trial attorney, or a long-term law clerk.

Next was Asia McClain's testimoney, she's a former student at Woodlawn high school, and knew both Adnan and Hae.  Back in 1999, after Adnan was arrested for Hae's murder, Asia wrote him in jail to tell him that she remembered being with him in the Woodlawn Public Library next to the school at the exact time that the State alledges he was murdering Hae Min Lee.  Adnan told Christina Gutierrez about Asia's letters, but Gutierrez never followed it up, never even called Asia.  This, according to Adnan's legal team, amounts to a serious case of 'dropping the damn ball,' and yes, that is the technical term for it.

Asia was very strong in the stand, she stuck to her guns on what she remembered, despite being accused of lying on behalf of her friend Adnan.  Except, that Asia and Adnan weren't friends, they were aquaintances who knew each other, but weren't good friends who hung out regularly or anything.  Which begs the question, why would someone who wasn't really a friend go to all this trouble 17 years later and risk a charge of perjury and contempt of court to lie for someone they didn't know all that well?  You can make that call for yourself.

As expected the prosecution attacked Asia from all sides.  They questioned her memory of events from 17 years ago, and also accused her (in an indirect manner) of lying on Adnan's behalf.  Which probably wasn't the greatest tactic by the prosecuter because she's 5 months pregnant and very sympathetic as a witness.  But by all accounts, Asia did an amazing job on the stand.
Cross-examination of Asia by the prosecutor continues on Day 2.

Serial Update: PCR hearing Day 1
Undisclosed Podcast: PCR hearing Day 1
The Frisky: Breakdown of Day 1

Day 2:

*Disclaimer* I can never remember the last name of the bloke who is playing the part of the prosecuter at Adnan's PCR hearing, so I'm just going to use random words starting with v instead.  Like "vagasil" or "velociraptor." 

Asia returned to the stand for cross-examination by prosecuter Thiru Vajayjay, who seems to have backed away from the "you're lying for a friend" side of things, probably because Asia comes across so well and so sympathetically that it was making him look like a total douchebag.  Instead, Thiru focused on the number of snow days in January of '99, because the weather played a big part in Hae's disappearance and people's experiences and memories of that day and the days that followed.  Essentially Thiru tried to prove that Asia was somehow mistaken in her memory of being with Adnan in the library.  She stood her ground though, so he still came off looking like a douchebag.

The final part of day 2 was the witness testimony from Gerald Grant, an expert on historical cell phone evidence.  Cell phone evidence which was a HUGE part of why Adnan was convicted back in 2000.  But, for those of you who haven't heard, that evidence has seriously come into question since then.  So much so that the AT&T Cell expert who testified for the State back in 2000, has now provided an affidavit for the defense, and been interviewed extensively by the current expert witness, Gerald Grant, prior to his testimony.

There was heavy focus on the cover letter from AT&T that was sent to the State with the cell phone records, and which made very clear that the records given cannot be used to interpret cell phone location.  Which is exactly the way the prosecution went on to use them, despite being told they can't be used for that.  It's also important to note that in recent years the accuracy of determining location using cell tower pings has been seriously questioned because the conditions are too variable for reliability.

Thiru Vinagrette ended his day on a low note by getting very, very angry at the cell expert for not giving him the answers he wanted.  Totally lost his cool and looked like a dick.  It will be interesting to hear what Thiru's FBI cell "expert" has to say on Day 3.

 Serial Update: PCR hearing Day 2
Undisclosed Podcast: PCR hearing Day 2
The Frisky: Breakdown of Day 2 (part 1) 
The Frisky: Breakdown of Day 2 (part 2) 

Come back later today for a summary of day 3 with relevant links

No comments:

Post a Comment