Adnan’s legal appeals, from jury verdict to latest events in the Maryland Court of Appeals
Use this page to track the progress of the legal case since the trials, and to locate legal documents or key evidence from any of Adnan Syed’s appeals. Much of the appeals evidence had not featured in the trials and includes the letters and affidavits of Asia McClain, the AT&T fax instructions , Tina Gutierrez‘s handwritten notes mentioning Asia, and a whole lot more.
Follow this link to go straight to the latest stage, in the Maryland Court of Appeals, where the State is hoping to restore Adnan’s (twice) overturned conviction.
We’ve set out in chronological order the different stages of appeal, both Adnan’s appeals, and now the State’s attempts to appeal against the two decisions granting Adnan a retrial. There are links to all the available related documents, you can find Opinions and Orders from both Circuit Court and the Court of Special Appeals, the back and forth of attorneys’ written arguments, many pieces of evidence submitted as exhibits, and even some hearing transcripts, such as when Kevin Urick testified that Asia had told him Adnan’s family had intimidated her into making the original alibi statement (he was listed to testify again in 2016, but somehow did not get chosen to explain himself under oath).
Evidence released with Court filings
Evidence was often submitted along with the appeal filings, sometimes copies of documents already known or on the record, but often something brand new. Sometimes these are called Exhibits or sometimes Appendices or Attachments. Although the Judges would always have a copy of the exhibits, they were not always included with the public versions, often though we’ve been able to cross reference and link to another copy. A couple of filings (or groups of filings) included so many exhibits that we made separate web pages so we could provide details without overwhelming this page.
After the Trials and Direct Appeals
2000 after trial
Circuit Court – 2000 – Dismissal of Gutierrez after Trial 2, Sentencing, Motions Denied
|Friday, February 25, 2000||Jury verdict finds Adnan guilty of first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery.|
|Monday, March 06, 2000||Adnan’s trial attorney Cristina Gutierrez files Motion for a New Trial|
|Wednesday, April 05, 2000||The trial Judge, Wanda Heard, grants Adnan’s request to dismiss Cristina Gutierrez and to postpone the sentencing so that Petitioner’s new attorney had time to adequately prepare.|
|Tuesday, June 06, 2000||Adnan is sentenced to Life plus 30 years and Judge Heard also dismisses Gutierrez’s Motion for a New Trial.|
|Friday, July 28, 2000||Adnan’s new attorney, Charles Dorsey, files a Motion for Modification of Sentence.|
|Tuesday, August 22, 2000||Judge Heard denied the Motion for Modification of Sentence|
Court of Special Appeals – 2002-2003 – Adnan’s Direct Appeal
|Wednesday, February 27, 2002||Adnan makes his first appeal. The Appellant’s brief was submitted by attorneys Warren Brown and Lisa Sansone. Two pages of the appendices are missing, but we do have alternative copies available of App. 19 and App. 21 which are extracts from court transcripts.
Before this, there must have been an Application for Leave to Appeal submitted but we don’t have a copy.
|Tuesday, April 30, 2002||The State submitted their written response to Adnan’s Appeal, the Appellee Brief.|
|Wednesday, March 19, 2003||A panel of three judges from COSA, John Bishop (retired), Joseph F Murphy (then COSA Chief Judge) and Sally Adkins, denied Adnan’s appeal.|
Court of Appeals – Petition to Appeal
|Wednesday, June 25, 2003||Adnan asked the Court of Appeals of Maryland, Maryland’s highest level State court, permission to put his appeal to them, aka a petition for writ of certiorari. They denied the “cert” petition, in other words they said ‘No’ to even starting the appeal.|
First round of Post Conviction proceedings (PCR1)
|Friday, May 28, 2010||Defense Attorney C. Justin Brown files Adnan’s Petition for Post Conviction Relief.
Exhibits are included within the main document from page 22 onwards: 1. Gutierrez’ clerk’s notes July 13 2000, 2. Asia McClain Affidavit March 25 2000, 3. Debbie Warren’s statement to police March 26 1999, 4. Asia McClain’s March 1 1999 letter to Syed, 5. Asia McClain’s March 2 1999 letter to Syed, 6. Letter from Rahmans (Adnan’s parents) to Gutierrez, 30 March 2000, 7. Letter from Rahmans (parents) to Judge Heard. (These were not available but these are alternate copies of the same documents, used in other filings. This accounts for the different numbering you may see.)
|Monday, November 29, 2010||Motions hearing for the Post Conviction petition.|
|Monday, December 20, 2010||A scheduled date for the Post-Conviction hearing which was postponed.
Judge Welch explained in his June 2016 Opinion (page 9) that of the seven postponed dates for this 2012 hearing “Petitioner requested a majority of these postponements in his attempt to produce McClain, an out-of-state witness, for the October 2012 post-conviction hearing”.
|Monday, June 27, 2011||Adnan filed a Supplement to his Petition for PC relief. This was later referenced by Brown and included results of a lie detector test taken by Adnan about Gutierrez’s conduct (see page 111) which were not admitted.|
|Monday, August 08, 2011||A scheduled date for the Post-Conviction hearing which was postponed.|
|Thursday, September 29, 2011||Adnan’s attorney Justin Brown asked the Court to disqualify Assistant State’s Attorney (ASA) Kathleen C Murphy, as he intended to call her as a witness.|
|Thursday, October 20, 2011||A scheduled date for the post-conviction hearing which was postponed, possibly as the decision whether to disqualify KC Murphy had not yet been resolved.|
|Monday, February 06, 2012||Motions hearing for the PCR petition. Originally scheduled for the PCR hearing but that item was postponed, instead the attorneys discussed Adnan’s Motion to Disqualify KC Murphy|
|Monday, February 13, 2012||Adnan’s Motion to Disqualify Counsel was denied, so Murphy continued to represent the State, and Adnan was prevented from calling her as a witness.|
|Tuesday, March 06, 2012||A scheduled date for the post-conviction hearing which was postponed.|
|Thursday, July 26, 2012||A scheduled date for the post-conviction hearing which was postponed.|
|Thursday, August 09, 2012||A scheduled date for the post-conviction hearing which was postponed.|
|Thursday, October 11, 2012||Day 1 of Adnan’s first PCR hearing with Judge Welch.
C Justin Brown and Melissa Kudja for Adnan (Appellant), Kathleen C Murphy for State (Appellee).
Witnesses for Adnan: Kevin Urick p13, Rabia Chaudry p33, Shamim Rahman p83.
Four documents were identified as Defense exhibits, but copies were not available with the transcript. Where possible we have linked to a version from another source: D01 notes written by Rabia Chaudry of her meeting with Asia (not admitted), D02 Asia McClain’s affidavit from 2000, D03 Mr and Mrs Rahman’s letter to Cristina Gutierrez and D04 Mr and Mrs Rahman’s letter to Judge Wanda Heard.
|Thursday, October 25, 2012||Day 2 of Adnan’s PCR hearing.
Witnesses for Adnan: Adnan Syed p6, Margaret Mead (expert witness) p63. There were no witnesses for the State.
CJ Brown for Adnan p103, KC Murphy for State p114.
Six more Defence exhibits and one State exhibit were mentioned, but again were not available with the transcript: D05 Gutierrez’ clerk’s notes mentioning Asia, D06 Asia’s second letter to Adnan, D07 Asia’s first letter to Adnan, D08 Adnan’s letter to Gutierrez, D09 Adnan’s prison achievement awards, D10 extract of Trial transcript and the single State’s exhibit: S01 Gutierrez’ alibi notice letter to Urick. It was also agreed the the full trial transcript should be incorporated into the record.
Murphy also notes (p114) that she had already submitted a written response but no details of that are available.
|Thursday, January 09, 2014||Judge Welch makes a written decision and denies Adnan’s petition for relief.|
COSA and the moves to reopen Post Conviction proceedings
2014-15 COSA ALA
Court of Special Appeals – Adnan’s Application for Leave to Appeal the Denial of Post Conviction Relief
|Monday, January 27, 2014||Adnan takes his appeal back to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.
The first step is filing an Application for Leave to Appeal (ALA) against the recent PCR denial with the Circuit Court.
|Wednesday, September 10, 2014||Eight months later COSA formally orders the State to respond, and specifically requests that they address whether his attorney asked or did not ask the State’s trial counsel about the possibility of a plea deal.|
|Friday, November 14, 2014||The original deadline for the State to respond to Adnan’s Application for Leave to Appeal.|
|Wednesday, January 14, 2015||The State files its Response in Opposition to Adnan’s ALA. This extension was agreed by COSA.
The actual attachments are missing. All were already part of the Court’s official appeal record. These are alternative copies of the same documents:
1. COSA Opinion Part 1 and Part 2 Mar 19 2003, 2. Trial Transcript for Feb 25 2000, 3. June 6 2000 sentencing transcript, 4. Nov 29 2010 Motions hearing for PCR, 5. Feb 6 2012 Motions hearing for PCR, 6. Oct 11 2012 PCR hearing Day 1, 7. Oct 25 2012 PCR hearing Day 2.
|Tuesday, January 20, 2015||Adnan files a Supplement to ALA and Request for Remand based upon a new affidavit by Asia McClain.
The six other exhibits are Asia McClain’s two letters from March 1999, two notes from Gutierrez’ files, letter from Adnan’s parents to Gutierrez and Asia’s 2000 affidavit. These links are to the separate documents but they are also included within the main Supplement document.
|Tuesday, January 27, 2015||The State files a Motion to Strike Adnan’s Supplement and Remand Request filed on 20 January.|
|Tuesday, February 03, 2015||Adnan files his Response to the State’s Motion to Strike and a formal Motion for Leave to File a Supplement to the ALA.|
|Friday, February 06, 2015||The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland grants Adnan’s Application for Leave to Appeal.|
Court of Special Appeals – Adnan’s Appeal against the Denial of Post Conviction Relief
|Monday, March 16, 2015||The original deadline for the Appellant (Adnan) to file his Appellant Brief.|
|Monday, March 23, 2015||Adnan submits his Brief of Appellant. The only file in the Appendix was Welch’s 2014 Opinion from the 2012 Post Conviction hearing (PCR1). Other files which are already on the record were also referenced.|
|Thursday, April 16, 2015||The original deadline for the Appellee (the State) to file its Appellee Brief.|
|Thursday, April 30, 2015||The revised deadline for the State to file its Brief.|
|Wednesday, May 06, 2015||The State files its Appellee Brief against Adnan’s ALA. The Appendix had 2 documents, but these were not included. Apx. 1 Letter from Adnan Syed to Court (not available, date unknown but written prior to 9 July 1999) to counter the State’s Motion to disqualify Gutierrez. Apx. 2-4 Notice of Alibi Witnesses, letter from Gutierrez to Urick, 4 October 1999, lists Adnan’s possible alibi witnesses.|
|Monday, May 18, 2015||A three judge panel from the Maryland Court of Special Appeals decide to remand Adnan’s case, i.e. send it back to the Baltimore City Circuit Court (BCCC). COSA is not able to consider new information directly, but the Circuit Court can do and so COSA is asking them to decide if new information, such as (but not limited to) Asia McClain’s testimony, can be heard and added to the formal record.|
|Monday, June 01, 2015||This date was originally scheduled for a COSA hearing. Not needed because the case was moved to Baltimore City Circuit Court by COSA’s Order on May 18.|
Circuit Court – Consideration of Motion to Reopen the Post Conviction proceedings
|Tuesday, June 30, 2015||Adnan submits a Motion asking the Baltimore City Circuit Court (BCCC) to Reopen his Post Conviction proceedings (as requested by COSA). The 10 exhibits are described on a separate page. Most had been submitted as part of the many earlier filings except for 2 new documents: Part 1 of Prosecutor Kevin Urick’s January 2015 interview with the Intercept and Urick’s February 2015 letter to the editor of the Daily Record|
|Wednesday, July 22, 2015||COSA’s deadline for Adnan to submit the Motion to Reopen Proceedings.|
|Thursday, August 06, 2015||BCCC Chief Judge assigns Judge Martin Welch, who sat on the original Post Conviction hearing, as the judge in Adnan’s reopened PC hearing. See the CC Order assigning Judge Welch to case.|
|Monday, August 24, 2015||Adnan files a Supplement to the Motion to Reopen based on new information about reliability of the cell tower evidence which was used at trial as uncovered by Susan Simpson. Details of all the accompanying exhibits can be found here.
Notable new documents included instructions from AT&T for intepreting their cell phone records, stating that incoming calls are NOT reliable for determing location, and (in the same linked file) a page of AT&T cell phone records showing which calls on 13 January 1999 were incoming, outgoing, or incoming calls that were diverted to answerphone. Previously, the prosecution at trial, and even the Serial podcast team had interpreted this as the phone user checking voicemail.
|Wednesday, September 23, 2015||The State’s Attorney submitted a Consolidated Response in Opposition to both the Motion to Reopen and the Supplement (published by Baltimore Sun) and Attachments.
The attachments were made public by Adnan’s atty Justin Brown. A breakdown of the Attachments is available on this page. This was the first time a version of Adnan’s full phone records were available to the public
|Tuesday, October 13, 2015||Adnan’s attorney submitted a Reply to the Consolidated Response and a separate Exhibits file.
There were many new documents, the most significant being another version of Adnan’s full cell phone records, and an affidavit from the State’s trial expert witness Abraham Waranowitz, acknowledging that he was never shown the AT&T coversheet and it would have changed his testimony.
See this page for details of all seven exhibits.
There is a separate wiki page with details of all the exhibits filed alongside all four of the legal arguments submitted during this Motion to Reopen phase of the legal case.
Second round of Post Conviction proceedings (PCR2)
2015-16 Reopened PCR2
Circuit Court – Reopened Post Conviction Review proceedings. Hearing in front of Judge Welch
|Friday, November 06, 2015||Judge Welch of the Baltimore City Circuit Court ordered that the PCR be reopened. The hearing is to cover a) Asia’s testimony and other evidence relevant to that, b) Gutierrez’ failure to cross examine the reliability of the cell phone evidence, as well as c) alleged prosecutorial misconduct during the PCR proceedings and d) potential prosecutorial misconduct during trial.|
|Tuesday, November 17, 2015||Adnan’s attorney Justin Brown tweeted that there was not yet a date set for the hearing.|
|Monday, November 23, 2015||Deadline for attorneys to contact Court for the purposes of scheduling a hearing.|
|Wednesday, December 02, 2015||BCCC Court held a status conference and discussed the scheduling with attorneys.|
|Tuesday, December 15, 2015||Judge Welch posted an Order scheduling the hearing for Feb 5 and 8 2016 (dates were later amended).|
|Tuesday, December 22, 2015||Deadline for Brown to submit Adnan’s list of expert witnesses.|
|Monday, December 28, 2015||Court dates amended slightly to 4 and 5 Feb (later amended again).|
|Wednesday, January 06, 2016||Deadline for the State has to submit both Fact and Expert Witnesses as well as any written statements. Justin Brown also has to submit Adnan’s list of Fact witnesses.|
|Tuesday, January 12, 2016||Another status conference. Judge Welch signed an rescheduling order confirming the new dates|
|Thursday, January 14, 2016||Justin Brown announced on Twitter that an extra day (Wed 3 Feb) has now been added to the hearing dates, as per the Order signed on 12th Jan.|
|Wednesday, February 03, 2016||Day 1 of Adnan’s reopened PCR hearing held in Baltimore City’s Circuit Court under Judge Martin Welch.
C Justin Brown and Chris Nieto for Adnan (Appellant), Thiru Vignarajah for State (Appellee).
Adnan’s Witnesses: 1 Phillip Dantes; 2 William Kanwisher; 3 Asia McClain Chapman.
|Thursday, February 04, 2016||Day 2
Adnan’s Witnesses: 3 cont. Asia McClain Chapman; 4 Gerald (Jerry) R Grant, expert witness on cell phone technology
|Friday, February 05, 2016||Day 3 (when the hearing began, this was scheduled as the final day)
Adnan’s Witnesses: 5 Sean Gordon; 6 Michelle Hamiel; 7 Dave Irwin defense attorney expert witness (testimony interrupted);
State’s Witness: 1 Chad Fitzgerald cell phone expert witness (called out of order)
|Monday, February 08, 2016||Day 4 The hearing was extended.
State’s Witness: 1 Chad Fitzgerald, expert witness (cont. from Day 3).
Adnan’s Witnesses: 7 David Irwin, expert witness (resumed from Day 3).
State’s Witness: 2 “Officer Steve“.Although Abraham Waranowitz and Ja’uan Gordon were both ready to be called as Adnan’s rebuttal witnesses, Judge Welch asked for written affidavits instead of testimony to save court time. AW affidavit, JG affidavit
|Tuesday, February 09, 2016||Day 5 Final day of extended hearing.
Closing Arguments from Brown for Adnan and Vignarajah for the State. Judge Welch then announced that he would produce a written decision.
|Tuesday, March 01, 2016||Brown asked the Court to add two letters to the official record. The first is from Vignarajah dated 23 February 2016, written at the request of Prof. Michael Milleman to correct untrue (and unresearched) statements made by Vignarajah about Millemann during the recent hearing.
The second is from Prof Millemann to the Court dated 25 February 2016, giving additional context and explaining that Vignarajah had made yet further misrepresentations in the letter of “correction”.
|Thursday, June 30, 2016||Judge Welch ordered that Adnan’s conviction should be vacated and granted Adnan a retrial.
In the full length decision Judge Welch was more expansive. He was not impressed with the State’s “hindsight sophistry” and found the self-contradictions of their expert witness, Fitzgerald, “perplexing”. He also notes that “Wilds’s testimony is inconsistent with the State’s adopted timeline”. Adnan’s Brady claim (about Exhibit 31 not being given to defense) was dismissed, but Gutierrez’s performance was acknowledged as ineffective regarding both contacting Asia and cross examining Waranowitz. However, to fulfil the legal definition of unconstitutionally ineffective assistance there is a second legal hurdle, “prejudice”. In other words considering all the other circumstances of the trial, could that ineffectiveness have possibly led to a different outcome. Welch said that was not so regarding Asia and the alibi, because of the timeline issues as above, perhaps suggesting that the jury were already confused. However, Judge Welch decided that if Gutierrez had cross-examined Waranowitz about AT&T’s cell-phone location disclaimer, there could well have been a different result because the State relied heavily on this to prove their case. So Gutierrez was constitutionally ineffective, and Adnan should be allowed a retrial.
State’s Appeals against decisions to allow a retrial
2016-17 State ALA against retrial
Court of Special Appeals – 2016-2017- State Application for Leave to Appeal against retrial decision and Adnan’s Cross ALA.
This section also includes events/court filings for Adnan’s Bail Application (Motion for Release Pending Appeal) which isn’t technically an appeal, but was happening as a result of the appeal’s success and concurrently with the other appeals processes. Also the State’s Application for Remand. Neither application was granted.
|Friday, July 22, 2016||The State filed a Notice of intent to File Application for Leave to Appeal and Request to Stay Order Granting Post-Conviction Relief.|
|Monday, August 1, 2016||The State filed an Application for Leave to Appeal (ALA) on the cell phone issue on the final possible day (under MD. Rule 1-203(a)(1)).|
|Tuesday, August 2, 2016||Judge Welch issued an Order staying post-conviction relief (the new trial) while the above appeal is dealt with.|
|Thursday, August 11, 2016||Justin Brown filed a Conditional Application for Leave to Cross Appeal for Adnan regarding the alibi witness issue. This only applies if the State’s ALA (August 1) is granted.|
|Friday, August 22, 2016||The State filed a Conditional Application for Limited Remand with Attachments asking for permission to take the case back once more to the City Circuit Court, so they can add documents to the record on the alibi witness issue. This only applies if Adnan’s Conditional Appeal (filed on August 11) is allowed. In January 2017 COSA allowed both State’s and Adnan’s appeals and agreed to consider this remand request. When Justin Brown filed an Application for Remand in 2015 COSA took their decision before the date of their scheduled appeal hearing, so that the new evidence could be be brought onto the record, and as a result, the hearing was indefinitely postponed. Details of the files submitted as the State’s Attachments document are on this separate page.|
|Thursday, September 15, 2016||Justin Brown (with associates from Hogan Lovells) filed both a Response to the State’s ALA and a Response to the State’s Conditional Application for Remand, including Exhibit 1 – Affidavit of [Name Redacted – a friend of both Adnan and Asia at Woodlawn High]|
|Friday, September 16, 2016||The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys Association (MCDAA) have submitted an Amicus Curiae (friends of the court) brief asking COSA to reject both the State’s appeals, saying “with the world watching, the public interest favors a prompt retrial, without an appeal”.|
|Monday, October 3, 2016||The State filed a Consolidated Reply to Adnan’s August 11 and September 15 filings above.|
|Tuesday, October 4, 2016||On International Wrongful Conviction Day, another Amicus Curiae brief was filed, this time by the State’s Attorneys from 21 of the 24 Maryland Counties. The State’s Attorneys from Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Cecil County (where Kevin Urick currently works) did not sign.
Unlike recent State filings from Vignarajah, this was not reported immediately by Justin Fenton, he did publicise it on October 6 and posted the actual document on October 7.
|Monday, October 24, 2016||Adnan’s attorney C Justin Brown asked the Baltimore Circuit Court to allow Adnan out of prison on bail on the grounds of no violent behaviour in prison, no flight risk and because the “State’s evidence against Syed…has crumbled in the face of ongoing investigation.”
318 pages of supporting Exhibits were presented including Jay Wilds‘ arrest history, Adnan’s school and prison records, and several new affidavits including Dr Leigh Hlavaty explaining that the time of burial in the State’s timeline is not consistent with the lividity markings on Hae’s body.
Break down of all the MRPA 2016-10-24 Exhibit documents
|Monday, November 7, 2016||The State of Maryland files their Response to Motion for Release, opposing Adnan’s bail request and claiming the Stay issued by Judge Welch precludes bail.
Like multiple previous State filings (see above) this document misses the deadline but unlike earlier filings, there is a new author: “Chief Special Counsel” Charlton T. Howard. And also like earlier State filings, the news became public via Justin Fenton of the Baltimore Sun, but not as promptly as filings from Vignarajah, as neither the news or the document itself became public until 4 days after signature date.
|Friday, November 18, 2016||Justin Brown (with associates from Hogan Lovells) posts Adnan’s reply which corrects the misquoted Maryland law used the State’s Response above. Brown references this document written by Vignarajah’s boss, the Maryland Attorney General, Brian Frosh, in support of Adnan’s release.|
|Wednesday, December 28, 2016||Judge Martin Welch responds to Adnan’s bail request, which will not be allowed “in large part, because of the open status of the case in the appeals court”.|
|Wednesday, January 18, 2017||COSA allows both the State’s appeal and Adnan’s appeal – announced by Justin Brown on Twitter|
|Friday, January 27, 2017||Adnan seeks leave to appeal the denial of his bail motion. (This was denied by COSA, as per Justin Brown’s December 2017 blog, but the denial date is unclear.)|
There is a separate wiki page with details of all the exhibits filed in the State’s Leave to Remand and another with details of all the different documents that were filed as exhibits for Adnan’s application for Bail in Sept 2016.
Court of Special Appeals – 2017 to 2018 – Reconsidering Welch’s decision to allow Adnan a Retrial
|Wednesday, January 18, 2017||COSA’s Order granting both the State of MD and Adnan’s Leave to Appeal (re Judge Welch’s June 2016 decision).
The order also gives the deadlines for the briefs and counter briefs and a date for the oral arguments to be heard in Court
|Monday, February 27, 2017||State’s Appellant Brief was submitted on the deadline
This is the first part of the State’s appeal which covers i) should the incoming call location disclaimer have been allowed in 2016 PCR, ii) waiver re cell tower, and iii) Gutierrez’ cross exam on cell evidence. There are two versions of the document, one from the COSA website and another from the Attorney General’s office (via Justin Fenton). The differences are fairly superficial, neither includes the 200+ page Appendix referenced within the brief.
|Wednesday, March 29, 2017||Adnan’s Appellee Brief was submitted on time. This is the response to the State’s Appellant Brief on the cell evidence appeal issues above.
Adnan’s Cross Appellant Brief was also submitted (on time) on the same day. His Cross Appeal is about i) failure to investigate Asia as alibi ii) cumulative prejudice of all attorney errors. The two briefs were submitted together as one document. An Appendix containing selected evidence from the court record was also submitted to COSA but is not publicly available.
|Tuesday, April 18, 2017||Under Rule 8-502 a)3) the State may submit a Reply Brief as a rebuttal to Adnan’s Appellee Brief which was itself a response to the State’s Appeal. Reply Brief deadlines weren’t mentioned in COSA’s scheduling Order, but this should have been the deadline, unless COSA ordered otherwise.|
|Friday, April 28, 2017||This was the deadline for the State’s Cross Appellee Brief (response on Asia / IAC). It was not submitted to COSA on time and so the official date for the file is May 1st.
However, as usual for all the files written by Thiru Vignarajah, Justin Fenton of the Baltimore Sun was quickly able to get a copy, this version. Abnormally Fenton did not publicise the States filing with an article in the Baltimore Sun or even via Twitter, instead he quietly published it to his documentcloud.org account and only gave the link to a very partisan “fan” who believes this doodle of a uterus (made during a sex-ed class) is in fact a “forced perspective” aerial view map, and that Rabia Chaudry has been paying a pro-Trump sting organisation. Because that’s what an impartial member of the press would do, right?
|Monday, May 1, 2017||After the weekend, the State submitted the document called Reply Brief and Appendix of Cross Appellee. Is it actually an Appendix? There do not appear to be any attachments, only arguments. It combines into one document both the State’s Reply Brief (which was due 13 days earlier) with the Cross Appellee response (only 3 days late) which is the State’s response to Adnan’s Asia/cumulative-prejudice Appeal.
On the same date the State submitted as a separate document, the Cross Appellee Appendix. The unconventional naming habit above is continued, the document contains pages referenced in both sections of the Brief, relating to the Appellant Reply as well as the Cross Appellee arguments.
This Appendix was the only one published to the internet by COSA. The contents are mainly repetitive, and are made up of snippets from many other documents. There is a separate wiki page with a breakdown and links to all the individual files.
|Thursday, May 18, 2017||Adnan’s team submitted their final filing, the Reply Brief to their Cross Appeal (Alibi/cumulative prejudice).
They met their deadline.
|Wednesday, May 31, 2017||COSA put out a media release and a Security/Media Order about the upcoming oral argument hearing. The decision had been taken that filming would no longer be allowed (although a local news station, ABC2 had previously been given permission). Some further reasons were later given to local press.|
|Thursday, June 1, 2017||This was the original date for the Oral Arguments hearing. Justin Brown announced the change on Twitter and several weeks later it was confirmed by COSA.|
|Thursday, June 8, 2017||Oral arguments took place at the Court of Special Appeals in Annapolis, Maryland’s state capital. Maryland rules didn’t allow Adnan to travel to the hearing.
Due to the small size of the courtroom seating was restricted, and sadly many members of the public who had made the journey were turned away.
Each side had 30 minutes (longer than standard) to make their case to a panel of three COSA judges: Patrick Woodward (COSA’s Chief Judge), Alexander Wright and Kathryn Graeff. As predicted, questions from the judges took up the majority of the time, and both sides were allowed to over-run, the State by around ten minutes more according to a local attorney who was present. [Search archive feed for June 8, 2017 episode]
|Saturday, June 12 2017||The audio of the hearing was available at a small cost after the hearing.
A copy was shared a few days after the hearing by an Adnan supporter, but the file is too large to be hosted on this wiki. You can listen or download your own copy here.
In the months after the hearing we heard more about the process of publishing decisions, when they could be expected and why, from Steve Klepper, via his @MDAppeal twitter account. There was no actual deadline for the decision, but the Judges did not meet their case management standard of 270 days for this particular case.
|Thursday, December 28, 2017||Adnan’s attorney clarifies on his blog that the Court of Special Appeals did not grant them leave to appeal the refusal to release Adnan on bail, the date of this refusal is not specified, but it likely happened prior to the COSA hearing in June 2017.|
|Thursday, March 29 2018||COSA decision announced – Adnan Syed was successful
Ten months after the Oral Arguments hearing, the Court of Special Appeals opinion was published (here). COSA Chief Judge Woodward and Judge Wright agreed that he should have a new trial, although for slightly different reasons to Judge Welch. They confirmed that Gutierrez was obliged to investigate Asia’s alibi, (a legal issue) but felt the cell-tower issue had been waived (a procedural timing issue). The third Judge, Graeff, wrote a dissent, which in turn is annotated with footnotes, from the first two, debating (debunking?) her rationale.Fun fact: Graeff previously led the Attorney General’s Criminal Appeals team, and oversaw the team that normally would have prosecuted this appeal, rather than the (then) Deputy AG Thiru Vignarajah.
If 138 pages seems daunting, summaries are available here, here, here and here. As it was a “reported opinion” this finding can, and has been used as a precedent in other cases.
Court of Appeals – 2018 – State’s Petition for Certiorari – Request to be allowed an appeal – and Adnan’s cross petition
|Monday, May 14 2018||The State filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari. This is, effectively, an application to the Maryland Court of Appeals just asking for permission to make a proper appeal, similar to the Application for Leave to Appeal stage that came before each COSA appeal.|
|Tuesday, May 29 2018||Adnan’s lawyers (Justin Brown and some pro-bono folks from Hogan Lovells) submitted an opposition to the State’s writ, with an additional conditional cross petition allowing them to present their own arguments if the case is accepted by COA.|
|Monday, 18 June 2018||The State filed their final “cert petition” document, which was both a response to the reply to their own original petition (about contacting alibi witnesses) and also, in the same document, the State’s reply to Syed’s cross petition (about the cell phone waiver).
Wednesday, 20 June 2018 The Court of Appeals’ monthly “conference” where they consider cases, copies of the documents above were distributed.
Court of Appeals – 2018 to 2019 – State Appeal against Retrial decisions from COSA and Circuit Court plus Adnan’s cross petition
|Thursday, 12 July 2018||Earlier than expected, the Court of Appeals announced they had granted certiorari, in other words the appeals will go ahead.
The Order/Writ of Certiorari from COA further clarifies i) that Adnan’s cross petition is also granted, and ii) specifies deadlines for the next round of legal documents and iii) notes that the hearing will be during their December session (which actually begins at the end of November).
|What’s next?||The State and Adnan both get to file a brief outlining their case, and replies to one another’s briefs, and then even responses to the replies. The dates below are COA’s deadlines, bar the last, which was explained by Steve Klepper, Also see Colin Miller’s blog.|
|Tuesday, August 21, 2018||The State filed their first “Petitioner’s Brief” and accompanying appendix (the appendix was a straight up copy of their 2017 (failed) COSA appendix.)|
|Thursday, September 20, 2018||Adnan’s attorney filed his “Brief of Respondent/Cross Petitioner” which includes the response to the State’s brief plus his cross petition about the waiver on the cellphone location disclaimer.
That same day, an “Amicus Curiae” brief was submitted, in support of Adnan’s case, by the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys’ Association, and others.
|Friday September 21, 2018||The “Record Extract” was submitted by the State and appeared on the COA website a few days later. This is a selection of the evidence that they believe is needed to support their case. The State should have submitted this 31 days earlier, along with their opening brief, but instead submitted the Appendix shown above. A new copy of that opening brief was submitted with updated references.
There were no truly new files because that isn’t appropriate in this stage of an appeal, but a full third of the pages were new to the public. Most notably extracts of Asia McClain’s testimony from the 2016 PCR hearing. We have a separate COA record extract page with linked files, all the details, and the new files all highlighted. The State also submitted a new version of their August brief, with (some) factual errors and faulty references fixed.
|Monday October 22, 2018||Deadline for Cross-respondent’s brief – State’s reply to Adnan on the cell phone waiver, and likely also their response to Adnan’s reply about contacting alibi witnesses.|
|Monday November 5, 2018||Optionally, Adnan will be able to file a response to the State’s reply on or before this date – in support of his own cross-petition.|
|Thursday November 29, 2018||This date has been set for the Court of Appeals hearing on the case, known as Oral Arguments. Lawyers from each side will argue the case and be questioned by the seven Judges on the Court of Appeals.
Cases at COA are livestreamed and so audiences can watch from anywhere in the world. An archive copy will be available to watch later.
|Saturday August 31, 2019||The end of the Court of Appeals annual cycle or “2018 term”. COA decide all cases within the term when they are heard (argued in court) so this is the last possible date for the decision in Adnan’s case, although it could be earlier.|
The majority of the historical documents were sourced from either the Maryland COSA website (part of mdcourts.gov) or the blog of Justin Brown (Adnan’s attorney), a few were shared anonymously online by multiple different people, others were provided by Rabia Chaudry from the Rahman/Syed’s family records.
More recent filings were mainly from Adnan’s attorney Justin Brown (mostly defense filings). Or, if the filing was for the State, or pro-State, it was made public by the Baltimore Sun, mostly via Justin Fenton. Sometimes Fenton even got the State’s filings before the Courts did.
The only document that Court of Special Appeals (COSA) were sole publishers of was the State’s Appendix from the June 2017 proceedings, although the other 3/4 Appendices from that part of the appeal were not published on their website.
Special thanks to Steve Klepper and Erica Suter, Maryland appellate attorneys, for their patience in explaining legal niceties and Steve’s Twitter breakdowns of MD appellate procedures and timings. This page also owes a debt of thanks and inspiration to theodoreadorno, and to Professor Colin Miller for his December 2014 blog.
Acronyms and legal terms
- ALA = Application for Leave to Appeal, a request for the Court to allow a proper appeal to be heard;
- Amicus Curiae or Amicus Brief = a legal document submitted by somebody who is interested in the legal issues of a case, although they are not directly involved;
- ASA = Assistant State’s Attorney;
- BCCC or CC = Baltimore City Circuit Court;
- Petition for Writ of Certiorari = similar to an ALA, this is a request specifically to the Court of Appeals;
- Pro Bono = Latin phrase used by lawyers, meaning “working free of charge”
- COA = Court of Appeals;
- COSA or sometimes CSA = Court of Special Appeals;
- MRPA = Motion for Release Pending Appeal;
- PCR = Post Conviction Relief
For other unfamiliar legal terms check out the US Courts useful online glossary .
The Court of Appeals (and Special Appeals) website has this guide to the stages of the COSA process, which is mostly plain English as it is written for non-lawyers.