Home – LexisNexis On Demand Webinar: Lessons from the “Serial” Case: Ten Evidentiary Missteps to Avoid

LexisNexis On Demand Webinar: Lessons from the “Serial” Case: Ten Evidentiary Missteps to Avoid

Lessons From the 'Serial' Case: Ten Evidentiary Missteps to Avoid

Live Date: August 18, 2015


Evidence is the lifeblood of a case. No matter which side you are on, there is a lot you have to get right and a great deal that can go wrong. Your client’s livelihood or bottom line, liberty or life may depend on how you handle the evidence.


There is no better illustration of this than a 1999 Maryland case involving the murder of an 18-year-old high school senior, Hae Min Lee, and the conviction of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, then 17. Both Lee and Syed were young people with, by all accounts, very bright futures. The case inspired the record-breaking Serial podcast, which has been downloaded more than 80 million times and counting. The case continues to inspire millions of downloads of Undisclosed, a podcast which features three attorneys who enthusiastically run down the many rabbit holes of the case’s hotly disputed evidentiary issues. It was evidentiary concerns, as well as the effectiveness of defense counsel’s handling of, among other things, evidence, that led to a appellate ruling calling for a new look at the case.


Undisclosed, which quickly rose to the top of the podcast charts, was initiated by the same attorney who inspired the production of Serial, Rabia Chaudry, a close family friend of the defendant and an advocate for his release. Joining Chaudry on Undisclosed are two attorneys with a penchant for evidentiary matters. One is Susan Simpson, an associate with the Volkov Law Group. Simpson handles both civil and criminal actions, and writes the blog The View From LL2 where she comments on the Serial case and other issues. The other attorney is Colin Miller, Professor of Law and Associate Dean of Faculty Development at the University of South Carolina School of Law. Miller is also the author of the popular EvidenceProfBlog.  


What You Will Learn


We are pleased to present both Simpson and Miller to share what they believe the so-called Serial case, Adnan Syed v. State of Maryland, can teach civil and criminal attorneys, courts, the prosecution and defense about evidence—and what not to do with it.


Panelists in a 75-minute program will use Syed v. Maryland to illustrate 10 evidentiary pitfalls, their consequences and how to avoid them. They will discuss such missteps as:


  • Stipulating to questionable or unfavorable evidence
  • Consulting (or not consulting) with the right expert witnesses
  • Not knowing the record
  • Not objecting in closing arguments
  • Failing to challenge the chain of custody
  • Not showing a jury the scene
  • Failing to communicate with witnesses
  • Ineffective objecting
  • Non-compelling discovery
  • Bungling the case and facing ineffective assistance of counsel or professional malpractice claims


Attendees will get tips about working with opposing counsel on evidentiary issues, using experts to find out what you don’t know, ferreting out witnesses, targeting objections during closing arguments, ensuring evidence was properly preserved, what to show the jury, discovery and maintaining the appropriate standard of legal practice.


Speakers include: Colin Miller, professor, University of South Carolina School of Law, and

Susan Simpson, associate at Volkov Law Group.