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

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[Show Intro]

Thomas:         Hello and welcome to Opening Arguments, this is episode 340.  I’m Thomas, that’s Andrew.  How ya doing, Andrew?

Andrew:         I’m fantastic, Thomas, how are you?

Thomas:         I am mainly just in absolute cliffhanger mode, I just can’t even deal with the fact that I have no idea how I did on the bar question.

Continue reading “Transcript of OA340: OA and Serial, or, Why the Supreme Court Denied Cert in Syed v. Maryland”

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

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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OA248: The Cert(iorari) Show!

Today’s episode features a deep dive into a bunch of different issues around granting the writ of certiorari — “cert” — and some of the intricacies of how the Trump administration is trying to take advantage of the activist Supreme Court.  Oh, and we also tackle a lawsuit that’s being grossly misrepresented by the media.

We begin with a discussion of the unique procedure of “cert before judgment.”  What is it, how rare is it, and… why is the Trump administration trying to deploy it with alarming frequency?  Listen and find out!

Then, we revisit litigation regarding the census that we first discussed back in Episode 232, and the administration’s effort to… get cert before judgment (of course).

Our main segment looks at something Andrew has never seen before:  essentially, a four-justice dissent from a denial of certiorari.  Why is this weird?  Listen and find out as we dissect that very opinion in Kennedy v. Bremerton School Dist.

Next, we tackle a recent clickbaity headline involving a dishwasher allegedly showered with money for “skipping work to go to church.”  Find out why the reporting on this case has been totally irresponsible and what really happened.

After all that, it’s time for the answer to Thomas Takes The Bar Exam #111, which involved a contract for defective water bottles.  As always, remember to follow our Twitter feed (@Openargs) and like our Facebook Page so that you too can play along with #TTTBE!


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

Show Notes & Links

  1. “Cert before judgment” is governed by Supreme Court Rule 11.
  2. We first discussed the census litigation back in Episode 232.  You can read the motion to dismiss the writ of certiorari as improvidently granted, as well as the U.S. reply.
  3. Click here to read the “statement” regarding the denial of cert in Kennedy v. Bremerton School Dist.
  4. Click here to read the CBS news report on the Hilton lawsuit, and here to read the (even worse) reporting by the Friendly Atheist blog.
  5. By contrast, you can read the actual Jean Pierre Hilton overtime lawsuit and the jury’s verdict.  Oh, and here’s the EEOC’s statement limiting punitive damages in retaliation cases to just $300,000 (not $21 million).

Support us on Patreon at:

Follow us on Twitter:  @Openargs


Don’t forget the OA Facebook Community!

For show-related questions, check out the Opening Arguments Wiki

And email us at


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