Adnan Syed, the man convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 2000, had his conviction vacated in September 2021, but a Maryland appellate court reinstated it on March 29th, 2023, citing a violation of the victim’s brother’s rights to attend a key hearing.
The circuit court had violated Young Lee’s right to notice and attend the hearing, according to the appellate court’s opinion. The appellate court ordered a new, legally compliant and transparent hearing on the motion to vacate, where Mr. Lee would be given sufficient notice of the hearing to allow him to attend in person.
This reinstatement is temporary until the hearing is repeated, evidence supporting the motion to vacate is presented, and the court states its reasons in support of its decision.
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Syed’s conviction was vacated in September 2021 after state prosecutors revealed they had uncovered new evidence that undermined his conviction and pointed to two alternative suspects. A circuit court judge threw out Syed’s conviction, saying the state had failed to turn over exculpatory evidence to the defense.
Prosecutors declined to recharge the case, entering what is known as a “nolle prosequi” in the court record. The term actually means “to be unwilling to pursue.”
Young Lee, Hae Min Lee’s brother, filed an appeal in December 2021, arguing that prosecutors violated state law by not giving him sufficient notice of the hearing, which he said prevented him from attending in person. The Maryland appeals court agreed with Lee, saying the state violated his rights by giving him only one business day’s notice.
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Syed has maintained his innocence throughout, and his case has generated significant controversy and debate. After being released from prison, he was hired at Georgetown University’s Prisons and Justice Initiative, where he works on prison reform. While the reinstatement of his conviction shows his legal battle is far from over, Syed’s future remains uncertain.