WASHINGTON - The family of Hae Min Lee is calling on Maryland's Supreme Court to hear their appeal, saying that while a lower court decision to reinstate the conviction of Adnan Syed in March remedied what they saw as a violation of victim’s rights, there’s one aspect they still feel needs to be addressed.
The attorney for Lee’s family filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the Supreme Court Thursday.
In the petition, Young Lee, the brother of Hae Min Lee, asks the state Supreme Court to rule that victims of crime in Maryland have a right to be heard and challenge evidence in hearings that could vacate convictions, such as the one that reversed the verdict in Syed's 20-year-old case.
"The Maryland Declaration of Rights requires that state agents treat crime victims with dignity, respect and sensitivity. That right to dignity means here that Young Lee should have the right to meaningfully participate in a hearing that could potentially vacate a murder conviction. That is all we ask and we expect the Maryland Supreme Court to resolve this issue once and for all," a statement from the family’s attorney read.
Syed’s conviction was overturned in September 2022 and a month later, prosecutors announced that they would be dropping the charges against him in the 1999 murder of his former girlfriend, 18-year-old Hae Min Lee, who was found strangled to death and buried in a makeshift grave.
Syed was 17 years old when he was taken into custody in connection to Lee’s death and at age 41, he was released from prison after decades of maintaining his innocence.
The case became highly publicized in 2014 following the first season of the hit podcast "Serial," which chronicled the story of the two teens and raised doubts about some of the evidence.
Baltimore Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn ruled in Syed’s vacatur hearing, saying that the state violated its legal obligation to share evidence that could have helped Syed’s defense.
But Syed’s conviction was later reestablished after Lee’s family contested the ruling, saying that their right to be "treated with dignity and respect," was violated because they were not given enough notice to attend the hearing that won Syed his freedom.
In this latest legal petition involving Lee’s family and Syed, the family maintains that they do not take a position on Syed’s guilt or innocence and only want to make sure the courts are operating with transparency and in fairness to the victim.
Syed’s attorneys filed a motion in April asking the Maryland appellate court to reconsider its decision to put his conviction back in place. Lee’s family says they will challenge the defense’s arguments if the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case.