Posts Tagged ‘Serial’

Binge-Worthy Media of the Innocence World

Victoria Inzana — October 18, 2017 @ 1:00 PM — Comments (5)

“I think people love monsters. And so when they get the chance, they want to see them.” -Amanda Knox

For decades, people have been obsessed with those who commit crimes, particularly crimes which are gory, bloody, terrible, and awful. This fascination has never faded, and although it remains, it has been joined by a new and equally enchanting topic. This new topic is Innocence Media. Those who have been wrongfully convicted and exonerated have garnered a new type of appeal from crime-show lovers. In the past, movies such as The Hurricane, or more recently the Netflix series, “Making a Murderer”, have been the shows to watch. Fortunately for the Innocence community, and those who advocate for those who have been wrongfully convicted, there are a number of new media outlets which feed the curiosity about those who are wrongfully convicted, their advocates, and flaws in the criminal justice system.



Amanda Knox

This documentary follows the exoneration of Amanda Knox who was convicted for the murder of Knox’s roommate Meredith Kercher. This documentary includes interviews with the prosecution and investigative team on the Knox case, along with Knox and Sollecito themselves. It can be streamed on Netflix.

If you’d like to view the trailer, click here.


Although this documentary is not focused on exoneration or the wrongfully convicted, it’s focus is on the flaws of the justice system in general, specifically relating to race. It also has a focus on the current era of Mass Incarceration, as well as how politics play a role in each movement surrounding the justice system. It can be streamed on Netflix.

If you’d like to view the trailer, click here.

Crown Heights

Crown Heights (2017)

This movie follows the true story of exoneree Colin Warner who was convicted of murder. Throughout this process, Warner also had his friend Carl King, and wife to support him along the way.  The importance of this film is to denote that wrongful convictions are still an ongoing problem in our country and to raise awareness about them.

It is currently not available to stream because it was just released to theaters. The image below has a list of cities with theaters who have showings. If you would like to view more information about the movie,  please follow them on twitter at @CrownHeightsMOV.

If you would like to view the trailer, please click here.

TV Shows

The Confession Tapes

This television show has a focus on false confessions and is available through Netflix. Each episode (with the exception of the first two which are about the same case) explores a different case where a defendant was pressured into giving a false confession by the police though verbal abuse and aggressive interrogation techniques. Each episode causes you to question whether you would give a false confession yourself.

You can view the trailer by clicking here.


Conviction is a fiction-based television show so it’s better for those looking for something a little more lighthearted while sacrificing accuracy. It is about a team of people, led by the daughter of the former president, who investigate cases of those who may be wrongfully convicted. ABC broadcasted this television for only one season, and it is no longer available to watch on their website or on Hulu. However, you can still buy it on Amazon. If you are interested, you can buy it here.

If you would like to view the trailer, click here.

Unlocking the Truth

This show, created by MTV, is hosted by exoneree Ryan Ferguson and his co-host Eva, who has had previous experience in wrongful conviction cases. Their goal throughout the series is to find the “truth”. It is not to exonerate someone, but instead to investigate cases to see if a defendant is actually innocent, and if evidence proves that they are innocent, they deliver that material to the proper authority (usually their lawyers). This television show is quite interesting, I was able to watch the first episode via youtube. If you would like to view all episodes, you can purchase them on Amazon by clicking here.

To view the trailer, click here.


To be clear, there are many podcasts on wrongful conviction, flaws in the criminal justice system, the criminal justice system in general, and crime. However, these are a few of our personal favorites.


This podcast currently has two seasons. Each season, the host, Sarah Koenig, follows a single case, from beginning to end. The first season deals with the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a high school girl in Baltimore. Her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed, was convicted for her murder. The second season is about the return of American soldier Bowe Bergdahl after his imprisonment by the Taliban. Many of his fellow soldiers believe that he deserted the team and deserved his fate. Koenig attempts to figure out whether he deserted in the second season.

If you would like to listen to Serial, please click here. You can also access the podcast from Apple Podcasts, or however you access your podcasts.


In this podcast, each season explores a new case with a team of experts who investigate cases in which they believe the defendant was wrongfully convicted. After each season is an “addenda” which goes a little more in-depth about each case and its conclusion. They are also currently working on two seasons simultaneously. As the investigators discuss how they obtained their evidence, case facts, and interviews, they are investigating the cases in real time. This makes the listener feel as if they are investigating the case with the team.

If you would like to listen to Undisclosed, please click here. You can also access the podcast from Apple Podcasts, or wherever else you listen from!


Actual Innocence

This podcast is extremely different compared to the other two we have mentioned. This podcast is unique because it doesn’t have seasons. It has only episodes, and currently has over 300. However, it doesn’t matter which episode you start on with this podcast because no two episodes cover the same case. Each episode is a different case told by each exoneree. They explain the problems with their cases, their emotions through the process, and the eventual conclusion of each of their cases. This allows the listener to grasp the full impact of a wrongful conviction. These aren’t just names on a paper, fictional people, or a rarity. These are real people who have been wronged in one of the worst ways our society could have wronged them.


If you would like to listen to Actual Innocence, click here. You can also access the podcast on Apple Podcasts or other podcast apps!

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Subject of Popular Podcast Granted New Trial

Alejandra de la Fuente — October 07, 2016 @ 1:00 PM — Comments (0)

Back in February, an article posted to our blog detailed how the popular podcast Serial’s Adnan Syed was granted a post-conviction relief hearing. Well, Syed supporters, rejoice—the podcast’s protagonist has now been granted a new trial. Asics Gel Lyte 5 Homme On Thursday, June 30, Baltimore City Circuit Judge Martin Welch overturned Syed’s conviction, granting him a new trial on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. During his trial in 1999, the State’s evidence against him included call records that are now known to be unreliable, the inconsistent statements and testimony of star witness Jay Wilds, and Syed’s vague memory of the day of the murder and failure to provide an alibi. The State also raised a questionable claim that Syed had motive to kill his ex-girlfriend because he was angry that she had a new boyfriend and presented a select few entries from her diary that may have suggested “intimate partner violence” and that Syed was possessive while they were dating. Parajumpers Femme Mary JO Those claims were not supported by expert testimony, however, and no other evidence or witness testimony corroborated them either. nike air zoom pegasus 33 donna Despite the State’s circumstantial evidence, no witnesses placing them together around the time of the disappearance and murder, and a lack of physical evidence linking him to the crime, Syed was convicted in 2000 for the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. Nike Roshe Run Femme Fleur At the February hearing, Syed’s attorneys presented three arguments as to why their client should be granted post-conviction relief, the first two of which were denied. ff14 gil for sale The first request focused on how Syed’s original trial attorney, Cristina Gutierrez, failed to provide effective counsel when she neglected to contact a potential alibi witness. Asia McClain Chapman had sent two letters to Syed following his arrest, claiming that she, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s friend had all seen him at a public library around the time that the State alleges Syed murdered Lee. Asics Gel Lyte 3 Homme She also claims that she remembers speaking with him. Although Syed handed that information over to Gutierrez, the potential alibi witness said no attorney ever contacted her. New Balance 997.5 homme In his opinion, Welch wrote that while Gutierrez did err in not contacting McClain, this did not prejudice the defense nor would it have affected the verdict because the State’s case was not centered on the time of the murder. The defense’s second request for post-conviction relief argued that a Brady violation occurred because the State failed to disclose potentially exculpatory evidence when they presented Syed’s cell phone records during trial, but did not include a fax cover sheet that addressed the reliability of cell tower location evidence. The State’s case rested on Wilds’ testimony coupled with phone records showing two incoming calls that prosecutors used to place Syed in the park where Lee’s body was found at the time she was buried. The fax cover sheet, however, contained a disclaimer that indicated “incoming calls are not reliable for determining location.” Welch ultimately agreed with the State though, writing that Syed’s right to raise a Brady violation was waived because he had the opportunity to do so in prior court proceedings. Nike Air Max Thea Femme Bleu The third argument presented by Syed’s attorneys is what won him a new trial. The defense claimed that Gutierrez provided ineffective assistance of counsel because she failed to cross-examine Abraham Waranowitz, the State’s cell tower expert witness, about the reliability of cell tower location evidence using the disclaimer that was not included with Syed’s cell phone records. During the trial in 1999, Waranowitz testified that a person’s approximate location during a phone call could be determined using call records to pinpoint which cell tower was pinged during the call. In 2015, however, Waranowitz signed an affidavit retracting his original testimony, stating that the prosecutor did not make him aware of the disclaimer regarding the reliability of incoming calls for determining location, which would have affected his testimony since he was not given the proper instructions for analyzing Syed’s call records. During the February hearing, the State again argued that like the defense’s allegation of a Brady violation, the defendant did not raise the issue in prior proceedings and therefore waived his right to challenge Gutierrez’s representation of him. Welch wrote that although Syed did fail to address his original trial attorney’s ineffective assistance of counsel in prior proceedings, he waived the right without “intelligently and knowingly” doing so, and thus vacated his conviction and granted the Serial star a new trial. In regards to Serial, Welch wrote that despite the case’s popularity due to the podcast, he did his best to consider the merits of the Syed’s request for post-conviction relief like he would in any other case. Nike Flyknit Lunar 3 homme Justin Brown, one of Syed’s attorneys, however, credited the podcast with the outcome of the hearing, stating that they would not be where they are today without it. Not everyone is happy with Welch’s decision, though, especially Lee’s family members. In a statement issued by the family, they expressed disappointment with the judge’s ruling, stating that they are still grieving and believe that Syed is guilty. The Maryland Office of the Attorney General said the State plans to appeal Welch’s decision, and according to Brown, has 30 days to decide what they will do next. Brown also stated that regardless of what the State chooses to do next, the defense has started preparing for retrial anyways, including partnering with Hogan Lovells—a major law firm that agreed to provide their extensive experience with trials and innocence cases pro-bono.

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New Podcast on Wrongful Conviction

Alejandra de la Fuente — July 19, 2016 @ 1:00 PM — Comments (0)

More good news for Serial fans: there is another podcast coming out that will focus on wrongful conviction. The original series, called Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom, will be available on reVolver Podcasts and will detail the individual stories of people who have been wrongfully convicted. The episodes will be drawn from actual case files of the Innocence Project, and will feature exclusive details about exonerees’ experiences throughout their wrongful convictions. Research and data for each episode will also be provided by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, a nonpartisan law and policy institute revered for their research and advocacy regarding mass incarceration.

Flom is an American music industry executive, CEO of Lava Records, and a Founding Board Member of the Innocence Project. To celebrate the release of the original series, the podcast host has pledged to donate up to $1 million to the Innocence Project, donating $1 for every consumer download from September through December. In discussing the podcast, Flom called for reforms to the criminal justice system and hopes that people will be inspired to join him in the innocence movement.

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Post-Conviction Relief Hearing for ‘Serial’s’ Adnan Syed

Alejandra de la Fuente — February 15, 2016 @ 4:00 PM — Comments (0)

The general public was up in arms following the release of the hit Netflix docuseries Making a Murderer in December. However, before Making a Murderer, there was Serial. Serial was a podcast released in October of 2014 featuring host Sarah Koenig, who told listeners about the story of Adnan Syed, a Baltimore man sent to prison for killing his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, in 1999. The podcast describes details about the trial, the actors in the case, and includes interviews with some of the people involved—even Syed himself. Like Making a Murderer, the podcast hints at the possible innocence of the story’s protagonist.

Koenig won the Peabody award for her highly praised work in hosting and producing the podcast, which was the first one to ever receive the award. TIME magazine also named her as one of the 100 Most Influential People in 2015. Following the release of Serial’s twelfth and final first season episode, Syed was granted the ability to appeal his conviction by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals on grounds that Cristina Gutierrez, his original lawyer, provided him ineffective assistance.

Syed had previously attempted to appeal his conviction six years ago, but the motion was denied. In his post-conviction relief hearing, Syed’s new attorney, C. Justin Brown, presented new evidence at a hearing last week that may be enough to grant him a new trial. Brown focused on mishandled or improperly argued elements from Syed’s initial case that caused his conviction. He also presented testimony from another witness that did not testify in the original trial that gives Syed an alibi during the time of Lee’s murder.

That witness is Asia McClain, one of Syed’s former classmates, who was also interviewed by Koenig during the first season of Serial. McClain claims that she did not testify because Gutierrez did not contact her and also that Kevin Urick, the prosecutor in the original trial, encouraged her not to testify in the appeal filed by Syed in 2010 after convincing her that Syed was indeed guilty. Following the release of Serial and realizing the important role she played in the case, McClain now states that she was in the library with Syed at the time of Lee’s murder.

Brown’s defense also includes a challenge to the AT&T cell phone records that the state presented in the original trial, placing Syed in Leakin Park where Lee’s body was found. The state used incoming call records to place Syed in the park. However, Brown submitted evidence last year claiming that these records were improperly used because the phone company issued a statement that a cell phone could be physically placed using only outgoing call records. Brown called Gerald R. Grant Jr., a cellphone forensic analyst, to testify about Abraham Waranowitz’s original testimony on cellphone records.

Waranowitz was the cellphone analyst that the state called to the stand during the 1999 trial. He testified that call records could be used to show a person’s approximate location by which cellphone tower was pinged during the call. However, Waranowitz recently provided new testimony claiming that at the time of the trial, Urick did not make him aware of the AT&T disclaimer stating that incoming call records were not reliable in regards to pinpointing a cellphone’s physical location. Waranowitz states that because of this, he was not given proper instructions on how to analyze the cellphone records that were provided to him, which would have affected his testimony.

While the hearing is over, Syed awaits a decision on whether his conviction will be overturned. Stay tuned!

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