Adnan Syed, who was convicted in 2000 for the murder of his girlfriend Hae Min Lee, may have a chance for a new trial. His case came to national attention through the hit podcast ‘Serial’, and was later revisited by an HBO documentary. There was a substantial question whether the conviction against Mr. Syed was correct, though the appeal had been upheld. However, a new appeal led to a ruling in 2018 that he should be entitled to a new trial, but that decision was reversed by the highest Court in Maryland.
Earlier this year, Mr. Syed’s attorneys approached the Sentencing Review Unit at the Baltimore prosecutor’s office, and asked them to conduct a new review of the case. Subsequent to that investigation, prosecutors indicate there is new evidence that should entitle Mr. Syed to having the prior conviction set aside, and be given a new trial.
During the investigation, prosecutors (basically a conviction integrity unit), uncovered additional evidence that had not been disclosed to the defense. Most notably, different suspect were known to the prosecutors, they were not properly ruled out, and related information was not given to the defense. There was another witness who said the suspects had motive to kill the victim, and threatened her, saying he would make her disappear, that he would kill her. Obviously that is relevant evidence to Mr. Syed’s defense, and should have been turned over to his attorneys prior to the trial. This type of evidence is known as ‘Brady’ evidence, and prosecutors have a duty to disclose.
Mr. Syed has always maintained his innocence, and there were always questions surrounding his conviction. It looks likely that he will get a chance to have another day in court, and increases the likelihood of finding out what actually happened to Ms. Lee.
Maryland Police Issued a Warning to people to wear pants when they check the mail
My legal advice: please wear pants
The Taneytown police department in Maryland was apparently having a lot of complaints about people checking their mail without pants on. It was enough of an issue that they had to announce a ‘final warning’ to residents to remind citizens not to check their mail whilst disrobed below the belt.
Funny sure, but there is a legitimate legal question there… is pantless mail-checking against the law. It just so happens that I have dealt with this specific matter before, so I may be the authority on it, at least in Florida. We had a case come in when I was a prosecutor; a man charged with indecent exposure for checking the mail sans pantaloons. My supervisor thought it was a good file, but I wasn’t so sure. We had an intern working at the office at the time, and I tasked him with the legal research. As I suspected, mere nudity did not rise to the level of indecent without some sort of lasciviousness. So, in Florida at least, pantless mail-checking is not criminal, without something else.
However, I recommend wearing pants when you go out for a couple of reasons. One, a less-informed law enforcement officer may think it is indecent, and you could go to jail until the legalities are sorted out. Also, I saw a guy get charged with indecent exposure for skinny dipping, because somebody said he was waving his winky at them. There’s room for dangerous misinterpretation if you are not wearing pants, so I’d advise everyone, if at all possible, to wear pants when they check their mail.
A Maryland Deputy had a standoff in the road with an angry groundhog: the officer tries to scare the rodent out of the roadway, and the groundhog responds aggressively. I’m not kidding… the groundhog actually charged at him. The deputy then shoots the groundhog, and then shoots him a second time to finish him off before the video concludes.
The video is shocking, and while it immediately look like an improper use of force, the reality is that the deputy does not know if that groundhog is rabid or otherwise dangerous, and he does not have to wait to find out, under the law. It almost certainly could have been handled differently, but this is facially a justified use of force case. On a gopher.
Police say they have in custody Sarah Greene, of Maryland, for the robbery of an elderly woman last week in a Publix Grocery parking lot. NBC-2 reports that she has a criminal and drug history from Maryland, including a history of Meth use. Which you could probably have guessed before I told you. She faces multiple charges including robbery, battery on an elderly victim and theft.
It’s rare that someone’s booking photo looks better than the “before” picture, but that’s what drug abuse can do to you. She apparently had come to Florida for drug treatment, and was apprehended after allegedly stealing from a WalMart in the Jacksonville area. To steal from an elderly woman indicates that her drug abuse is likely out of control. The irony is that some time in jail could be good for her if she can get clean and turn her life around. Getting arrested might save her life.
Major Appellate Court Ruling: the 3rd Circuit Rules that a warrant is required to place a GPS tracking device on a vehicle
In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled inUnited States v. Jones, (132 S.Ct. 945, 2012,) that placing a GPS tracking device on a vehicle does constitute a search. The Supreme Court declined to rule whether such a search required a warrant, or if such searches are therefore unreasonable under the Constitution. The lower courts had punted on the issue since then, allowing good faith exceptions for GPS devices placed prior to the Jones ruling. This week, the 3rd Circuit issued a ruling that declared that not only does the placement of a GPS tracking device on someone’s vehicle constitute a search, such searches do require a warrant. United States v. Harry Katzin, et. al. (Docket No. 12-2548, Fed. 3rd Cir, 2013). [Case text included in linked Wired story.]
This does not prevent the government from using GPS tracking devices, it merely requires that the Constitutional warrant requirement be adhered to before they do so. The agents and prosecutors in the Katzin case knew about the Jones ruling, but did not bother to even ask for a warrant, even though they probably could have gotten one. Now, the evidence obtained as a result of the search will be excluded from any future trial, due to the government’s willful disregard for the Defendants’ Constitutional rights. This case will likely set a strong precedent, as it is in line with recent Supreme Court holdings.
In Florida, the Jones case has been followed in appellate cases refuting warrantless searches of cell phones [Smallwood v. State, 113 So.3d 724 (Fla. 2013)], and limiting officers who come onto property without warrants for investigatory purposes [Powell v. State, 120 So.3d 577 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013)].