OA340: OA and Serial, or, Why the Supreme Court Denied Cert in Syed v. Maryland

Perhaps against our better judgment, we once again return to the Adnan Syed case narrated so beautifully in season 1 of Serial. If you haven’t heard our take on the case itself, you might want to go back and listen to Episode 107. Today, we’re not discussing the underlying merits but rather what the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled and why the Supreme Court declined to review that decision. Love us or hate us, if you love Serial, you won’t want to miss this episode!

We begin, however, with a look at how President Trump has reshaped the federal courts by the numbers. Is it as bleak as some sources say? Or is there merit to the counter-argument that Trump isn’t doing anything much differently than his predecessors — it’s just that we’re in the middle of his Presidency, so of course his effect is outsized. We delve beneath the op-eds to tell you what the cold hard facts are.

Then, it’s time to describe exactly what’s happened to Adnan Syed in the courts since Serial, culminating with a 4-3 decision in the Maryland Court of Appeals that was left undisturbed by the Supreme Court when they denied certiorari last week. What does it all mean? We break it down for you.

After that, it’s time for a bonus mini-“Breakin’ Down the Law” segment integrated with Thomas’s fiendishly hard #T3BE question. If you’ve ever wondered about motions for new trials and Rules 59 and 60 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, well, this is the show for you!


None! If you’d like to have either of us as a guest on your show, drop us an email at openarguments@gmail.com.

Show Notes & Links

  1. We first broke down the Adnan Syed case (and Serial‘s portrayal of it) in Episode 107.
  2. You can check out the Brookings article we referenced (“Trump Has Reshaped the Judiciary But Not As Much As You Might Think”).
  3. For the Maryland Court of Appeals opinion (State v. Syed), click here. Then you can read Syed’s cert petition, the State’s response, and Syed’s reply. Ultimately, the Supreme Court just denied the petition without comment.\
  4. Finally, the underlying case we discussed regarding ineffective assistance of counsel is Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984).

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