Maryland Attorney General wants to represent Lee family in Syed appeal

Posted at 11:35 AM, October 26, 2022 and last updated 11:35 AM, October 26, 2022

By Ryan Dickstein

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh says his office should be representing the state in ongoing litigation of the Adnan Syed case.

Frosh and Syed’s defense team have been back and forth in court trying to get each other disqualified from the appeals process.

Adnan Syed, center right, leaves the courthouse after the hearing, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, in Baltimore. A Baltimore judge on Monday ordered the release of Syed after overturning his conviction for the 1999 murder of high school student Hae Min Lee — a case that was chronicled in the hit podcast “Serial,” a true-crime series that transfixed listeners and revolutionized the genre. (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

Syed’s team has accused Frosh’s office of “prejudging” the case, and “demonstrating a bias,” that prevents them from performing their constitutional duty.

In response, the Attorney General’s Office said they are “constitutionally designated to represent the State of Maryland in the appellate courts.”

On October 11 Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby opted to drop all charges against Syed, who’d previously been convicted in 1999 of murdering Hae Min Lee.

Although Frosh has admitted to being at odds with Mosby on how the decision was handled, his office said they have no intention of arguing “the merits of the motion to vacate” Syed’s life-time sentence.

As partial reasoning for her decision to free Syed, Mosby cited the Attorney General’s Office’s failure to disclose evidence during the original trial.

Frosh’s office has denied the allegations, but said they’re “not interested in using this appeal to litigate culpability.”

What they are interested in is whether Mosby’s office “complied with the laws governing the treatment of victims.”

However, Mosby’s office released the following statement calling these attempts a “complete disservice to the family of Hae Min Lee and to Adnan Syed.”

“Attorney General Brian Frosh and his office mishandled and sat on exculpatory evidence for years and his recent attempts to save face are a complete disservice to the family of Hae Min Lee and to Adnan Syed who was wrongfully incarcerated for 23 years. We stand by our investigation and our ultimate finding that there is no credible evidence that Mr. Syed was involved in the death of Ms. Lee. Our investigation is extensive, and only a portion of our findings were outlined in the motion in order to present enough compelling evidence for the court to consider our request, without compromising the rest of this open and pending investigation.

It is extremely troubling that the Attorney General, who is clearly biased and is in self-preservation mode to protect himself as well as the original prosecutor and post-conviction attorney in the case, is legally asserting that prosecutors don’t have to disclose to the defense an alternative suspect that threatens to kill the victim because the person reporting the threat was not sure if the threat was serious or not. The problem is that the Attorney General’s argument is completely contrary to the law and is the reason why a Judge rightfully concluded that it was a Brady violation.

Our office has always and will continue to treat the family of Hae Min Lee with respect. We not only notified the family prior to filing the motion, we provided them a copy of the motion, explained the reasons for the decision, offered counseling, provided personal cell phone numbers with multiple invitations to call or text at any time, and when the court set the matter in for a hearing, we secured a means for any member of the family to observe the hearing virtually. In our pursuit of justice for their loved one, my office stands ready to talk to the family at any time.”

Marilyn J. Mosby, State’s Attorney

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (marylandattorneygeneral.gov)

This statement comes after Mosby previously called out Frosh’s office for “their willful decision to sit on exculpatory evidence for the last seven years.”

Frosh claims Lee’s family was only given two days notice, prior to Mosby’s office filing a motion to have Syed’s conviction tossed.

Lee’s family was also apparently not told they had the right to speak at the hearing, which they’d only been made aware of one business day in advance.

An attempt by Lee’s family to have the hearing postponed was denied by a Baltimore Circuit Court judge, who instead suggested the family to testify virtually rather than in person.

The Lee family appealed to halt the proceedings but was rebuffed bringing the case to where it is now, before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

Meanwhile, Syed is a free man. Mosby’s office insists the investigation into Lee’s murder is ongoing, as it looks into other potential suspects.

Frosh’s office has conceded the outcome of the appeal likely would not impact Syed, hence why they feel his defense team should not be a part of the process.

This story was originally published Oct. 25, 2022 by WMAR in Baltimore, an E.W. Scripps Company.

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