Politics and Business

Can the media really influence a legal case?

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Opinions vary, but after years of efforts, an appeal has been granted for Adnan Syed. Many never heard of Syed until last year, when the popular podcast, “Serial” brought his case into the limelight, making it an overnight national sensation. In 2000, the now 33 year old Adnan Syed was convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. Adnan’s conviction gained a fair amount of notoriety around the time that the events took place over a decade ago, but it didn’t become a media frenzy until the first season of the podcast began to stream. Investigative journalist Sarah Koenig and her team spent months investigating the case, and put together a podcast that soon went viral. A podcast that some say opened up Pandora’s Box to a botched case. As a multitude of opinions began to pour in surrounding the conviction once Koenig exposed details of how the case was handled, many wondered, is a podcast single handedly going to be able to revive a case? Earlier this month, Adnan Syed was granted an appeal. They say that the third time is a charm, and for Syed, it is. Denied the chance to appeal not once, but twice, this new motion will overturn his last appeal denial from January.

As the center of the popular podcast, Adnan’s interviews with Sarah were aired, along with her interviews with other key witnesses and parties involved. Koenig not only streamed interviews, but also brought to the forefront evidence that supported both the prosecution and defense. She never revealed her opinion on whether or not she feels Adnan is guilty or innocent, however she did give Adnan’s case a heartbeat again through the Innocence Project, a non-profit clinic which works on exonerating people that have been wrongfully convicted.

“Serial” shed much light on the fact that Adnan wasn’t given a fair trial, but did its depiction of the facts that Koenig’s team researched have an influence on the State of Maryland’s latest decision? It’s fair to say that if it wasn’t for “Serial,” and Koenig bringing Syed’s case to the Innocence Project, chances are that his case might not have been granted an appeal. Some argue that it’s unfair and bias, and that the podcast was the influence behind giving someone who doesn’t deserve another chance an opportunity to get away with murder, while others argue that Syed was clearly wrongfully convicted and deserves to be fully exonerated. It’s not clear if Syed’s attorney had dropped the ball during the original trial, if his race took a part in the conviction, if the prosecution just wanted to point the finger to where they felt was most convenient, or if he is in fact guilty. What is clear, is that if it wasn’t for “Serial” and the publicity that it received, Syed’s appeal might never have seen the light of day.

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