The Appellate Court of Maryland Tuesday reinstated the conviction of Adnan Syed for the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee and remanded the case.
Hae Min Lee’s brother Young Lee appealed the vacature of Syed’s conviction on the grounds that he did not receive notice of Syed’s hearing. In his appeal, Lee argued that he was living in Los Angeles, California at the time of the hearing, and the prosecutor was “fully aware” of his whereabouts.
Under the Maryland law, “before a hearing on a motion filed under this section, the victim or victim’s representative shall be notified.” In Tuesday’s 2-1 decision, the court found that the Circuit Court for Baltimore City’s decision “did not not provide Lee with the rights to be afforded a victim or victim’s representative pursuant to the applicable constitutional provisions and Maryland statutes,” by failing to give Lee notice of the hearing which vacated Syed’s conviction.
According to the opinion, prosecutor Becky Feldman sent Lee an email on September 19, 2022, informing him that the hearing regarding whether or not to vacate Syed’s conviction would be in person. On September 18, 2022, Feldman texted Lee to “ensure that he received the email and was aware of the hearing.” Lee informed Feldman that he would attend the hearing via Zoom.
The court wrote:
We remand for a new, legally compliant, and transparent hearing on the motion to vacate, where Mr. Lee is given notice of the hearing that is sufficient to allow him to attend in person, evidence supporting the motion to vacate is presented, and the court states its reasons in support of its decision.
Syed was convicted of the murder of Hae Min Lee in 2000 and spent 23 years in prison before Circuit Court for Baltimore City Judge Melissa Phinn vacated his conviction in September 2022. Phinn determined that a Brady violation occured in Syed’s case because the prosecution suppressed evidence favorable to Syed.