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Author, advocate for Adnan Syed discusses celebrated case

Rabia Chaudry, a Pakistani-American lawyer who wrote a book about the legal saga of Adnan Syed, outlined why she believes the imprisoned Maryland man was wrongly convicted and a victim of ineffective counsel at last week’s American Bar Association Spring 2019 National Legal Malpractice Conference

Rabia Chaudry

Rabia Chaudry

Chaudry has become known as the public advocate for Syed, who is at the center of a case that in 2014 became a popular investigative journalism podcast in “Serial: Season One.” Syed remains in jail for the 1999 murder of his teen girlfriend Hae Min Lee after the Maryland Court of Appeals on March 8 denied him a new trial, just two days before a four-part documentary on the alleged wrongful conviction, “The Case Against Adnan Syed,” debuted on HBO.

His case has caught the public’s attention in much the same way as “Making a Murderer,” a Netflix series that raised questions about the 2007 murder conviction of a Wisconsin man, Steven Avery, who previously had been wrongfully convicted in 1985 of sexual assault and attempted murder.

A friend of Syed, Chaudry has advocated on his behalf for many years. Her book, a New York Times bestseller, “Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice after Serial,” was released in 2016. She is also executive producer of the HBO series.

“As a community advocate, I have learned the power of storytelling,” Chaudry said at the ABA conference on April 4. “When you are standing in front of a jury, the best story wins. In Adnan’s case, defense counsel had no story.”

To support her claim of ineffective counsel, Chaudry said Syed “gave his attorney a list of 70 names of people who saw him that evening (at Ramadan services) and who could vouch for him. She never contacted any of them.”

The three-day professionalism conference, sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Professional Liability, concluded Friday in Miami Beach. It included a series of programs on a variety of professionalism issues, including representing mentally impaired lawyers as well as the potential perils of social media use.

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