August 13, 2015

Guilty Until Proven Innocent - Adnan Syed

*Spoiler alert! I do discuss the case here a bit so if you think you might want to listen to the podcast, stop reading now!*

In my last post, I mentioned that during my stint away from the blog I had become obsessed with the Serial podcast. That's partially true. What I actually became obsessed with was the case of Adnan Syed and everything surrounding it.


I didn't catch the podcast in Fall 2014 when it came out so by the time I heard about it this past winter, all of the episodes were available. I devoured them immediately. If I ever couldn't finish a full episode on my commute, I hung out in the lobby to finish them - screw being late! And if there was a cliffhanger, there was no way I was waiting for the next commute. I may or may not have listened to episode 9 in the shower with the bluetooth speaker on full blast. Priorities!

But why was I so obsessed? The case wasn't special - young girl goes missing, her body is found and the ex-boyfriend is convicted. That seems pretty standard (you know what I mean!) and we see it all the time on Dateline. It's certainly no secret that I love real-life crime shows, however I've never cared about a case beyond the episode's conclusion. Possibly because those rarely end such a cloud of convolutedness. Or injustice, whatever you want to call it.

I'm not really here to air my opinions on whether or not I believe Adnan is guilty. It's not the place and any opinion I have is just that - an opinion. What gets me most is that the conviction was based on a whole lot of circumstantial, and occasionally non-existent, evidence. It's not that I don't care about guilt because that's obviously important, but you're supposed to prove it.

That's why I am also loving the new podcast, Undisclosed. Their main purpose, by their own description, is to investigate the investigation. Not to investigate Adnan, or anyone else who may have done it. It's too late for that; like 16 years too late. But it's not too late to figure out whether what led to the conviction was proper or not. Listening really makes me regret not pursuing a law degree even more than Serial originally did because it's actually extremely fascinating to listen to.

Could Adnan have been where he is described to be at specific points in time? Does Jay's (latest) story actually work in real life? Could anyone actually recall the events of January 13, 1999, as well as the days & weeks that followed, with any reliable clarity? Is it possible that the police coerced Jay because, by his own admission in his Intercept interview, he was dearly afraid of going to prison on drug charges? Are phone records really so reliable? Was there really no way that it could have been anyone else? Did Adnan have a motive? And finally - was there any [forensic] evidence at the crime scene?

There are certainly a lot of questions, ones that may never be answered. But I absolutely love tuning in each week to try to work things out myself because that may be all I ever get. For now, I think this is probably the most fitting quote in regards to this case:


Obviously, I'd love to hear what you think of Serial/Undisclosed/the case in general! If you're interested, you definitely must start with Serial before moving on to Undisclosed. Trust me, you'll be confused.

Happy listening!

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  1. Okay, am I the only one that doesn't know what a podcast is? Please educate me because I'm hearing about all these podcasts and I'm thinking their like radio shows? Am I wrong? I don't understand.

  2. I devoured Serial last fall, just before the last episode was released. It was so good! I worked in criminal defense so the whole thing was so fascinating to me and I found myself saying, "You can't do that! You REALLY can't do that!" The case was a mess. I listened to the first episode of Undisclosed, but for some reason couldn't get into it. The production is terrible and I wasn't convinced that it wasn't one-sided. I might have to give it another try though!


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