Adnan Syed Denied Second Trial

Back in 2014, the podcast Serial became an internet sensation as it broke down with great discipline and specificity the case, trial, and subsequent conviction of Adnan Syed for the murder of his girlfriend Hae Min Lee.

The publicity and the serious, legitimate questions raised about Syed’s conviction and trial as a result of the podcast was so great that Syed’s case was re-opened and eventually he was granted the right to a new trial by the state of Maryland.

Well, that didn’t last long.

But on Friday, Maryland’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, ruled in a 4-to-3 decisionthat while Mr. Syed’s defense lawyer had been “deficient” in not calling a potential alibi witness to testify during the trial 19 years ago, ultimately Mr. Syed was not “prejudiced” by that deficiency.

NY Times

I am not a lawyer, and my only exposure to this case was from the Serial podcast, however it would seem to me that if the defendant’s legal representation was referred to as “deficient” by the State of Maryland’s Court, then that would be grounds for a new trial. If key witnesses that were able to verify and legitimize critical facts and timelines in this case, then those people need to be heard.

I honestly don’t know, and don’t have a strong opinion about, whether Syed is innocent or guilty. What I do know is that there were enough questions raised by the Serial podcast that brings to light way too many leaps of faith that were taken in the original trial and conviction of Syed. As we have seen so many times over the years, corruption, prejudice, and hidden agendas can sometimes win the day within the Legal and Court System and you do do have to wonder if there is an over-zealous DA trying to keep the wraps on a very high profile case that would possibly expose a lot of dirty laundry in the state legal system of Maryland.

A Pot of Questions

Now that Pot is legal in Washington and Colorado, the situation brings up some interesting legal and operational challenges for governments, businesses, and Pot growers.

But the key complication with turning grass into big business is that though states may give it the thumbs-up, it remains illegal at the federal level, creating a legislative gray area. …. Sellers of marijuana have no place to put the money they make. Because the drug remains federally illegal, banks can’t accept the profits from its sale; that would compromise their federal deposit insurance (FDIC) protection. Thus, growers and retailers will have to manage their income, their payroll, their bills and their taxes in cash. That makes it extremely hard, and dangerous, to run any business, let alone mirror the economies of scale enjoyed by Big Tobacco.

The people Colorado and Washington who will be smoking the ganja won’t really be concerned with these issues, but the folks producing and distributing it will have to ponder some of these issues. Or, they can just continue to run their dealings as they did before Tuesday: as a predominantly cash driven business where stacks of cash can be hidden in air ducts a la Walter “Heisenberg” White. All of these items are really minor challenges relative to the benefits folks are projecting to their state revenue and cost savings (i.e. local towns won’t need as many cops trying to bust marijuana dealers and smokers).

If I was the marketing manager for Cheetos or Bugles (and other munchies), I would heavy up the local marketing budgets in Colorado and Washington stat and target Boulder, Colorado Springs and other college towns.

Via Quartz

Poor Sports

I was reading the NY Times Sports page this morning on the way to work and I thought I was reading something out of police rap sheet. In today’s Sports section were stories about circus like congressional hearings, witness tampering by a 7 time Cy Young award winner, congressmen breaking federal laws by receiving autographs in the halls of Congress, coaches making illegal recruiting calls, commissioners and congressmen talking about illegal tapings, illegal payments related to a former Heisman Trophy winner and a lawyer and a security guard showing up at the hearing “packing heat”, and an amputee being told by a court that he has a competitive advantage in the arena.

At least something is right in the world: a beagle won at the Westminster Dog Show