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Appeal By Hae Min Lee’s Family Of Judge’s Adnan Syed Ruling Can Go Forward

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has said it will consider Hae Min Lee's family’s appeal at a hearing in February after Adnan Syed's conviction was vacated.

By Jill Sederstrom
Adnan Syed’s Conviction Overturned, Judge Orders Release

Hae Min Lee’s family’s appeal of a judge’s decision to vacate the murder conviction of Adnan Syed will be able to move forward, according to a Maryland appellate court.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals released an order on Friday ruling that the family’s appeal will be considered during a session in February.

“Hae Min Lee’s family is thrilled with today’s ruling," Hae Min Lee's family attorney Steve Kelly said Friday in an emailed statement to Oxygen.com. "All they are seeking is what the law requires — a full evidentiary hearing in which they can meaningfully participate and one that makes public the relevant evidence.” 

Syed’s conviction for the death of his former girlfriend Hae Min Lee was vacated in September by Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn, who ruled that the state failed to hand over exculpatory evidence to his defense team.

RELATED: How Adnan Syed Celebrated His Freedom After More Than 20 Years Behind Bars

On the day of the hearing, Hae Min’s brother Young Lee filed a motion arguing that he was not given adequate time to appear in person. The motion was denied but Lee was given time to attend the hearing via Zoom, CNN reports.

Days later, Young Lee filed a notice of appeal through his attorney based on alleged violations that his family had not been given the “right to meaningfully participate” in the hearing before the decision was made the vacate the sentence, Kelly previously said in a statement provided to Oxygen.com.

Adnan Syed leaves the courthouse

“The notice of appeal is the first step in seeking the Maryland Court of Special Appeals’ review of the potential violations of Maryland’s victims’ right statutes in connection with the hearing,” Kelly said at the time.

The next month, before the appeal was heard in court, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office announced that it had dropped all charges against Syed, whose case was made famous after it was featured in the popular podcast “Serial."

State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby said in a statement that the decision was made after an investigative team found “no credible evidence that Mr. Syed was involved in the death of Ms. Lee.”

New DNA evidence conducted on Lee’s clothing, including a pair of pantyhose and shoes, had also excluded him, Mosby said during a press conference to announce the decision.

Young Lee said in a previous victim impact statement delivered in court that he felt as though he had been “betrayed” by the state.

“Whenever I think it’s over, it’s ended, it always comes back,” he said, according to CNN.

In response, Mosby has insisted that Hae Min Lee’s family has always remained at the forefront of the investigation.

"Our office has always and will continue to treat the family of Hae Min Lee with respect,” she said. “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." 

Hae Min Lee’s family has asked in court filings for a public hearing on the evidence used by the judge to make her decision to vacate the sentence.

Syed’s attorney Erica Suter addressed the request in her own response filed in court Thursday, according to NBC affiliate WBAL-TV.

“It is both legally and morally correct that our system honors the rights of victims,” she said. “It is also true that the closure that victims sometimes seek may not be found in the solutions that our legal system offers.”

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