Serial Teaches Lawyering Lessons

The popular podcast "Serial" recently concluded its dynamic first season. For those who are not familiar with the show, it informally reopened the investigation into a 15 year old first degree murder case in Baltimore, Maryland. Through exhaustive evaluation of witness testimony, cell phone records, motive, and just about everything pertaining to the case, host Sara Koenig presented a compelling argument for a "should have been" acquittal at trial.

In addition to elucidating the concept of reasonable doubt and how it pertained to that case, one extremely interesting thing Serial underscored is the necessity of immediate preservation of evidence. For example, a key element of the trial was the State's argument that the accused, Adnan Syed, made a pay phone call to his friend Jay from Best Buy immediately after murdering his ex-girlfriend in the store's parking lot. The defense questioned the existence of a pay phone at Best Buy and denied any crime took place in the parking lot.

What was left unsaid in Serial was that Syed's lawyers should have sought immediate preservation of all Best Buy surveillance tapes. These tapes, both from interior and exterior cameras, could have definitively proven that the pay phone call and alleged parking lot murder never occurred.

This is a critical lesson for accident victims. Once a catastrophic harm occurs, you immediately need a lawyer to preserve all accident footage, locate witnesses, and gather up every shred of evidence to prove your case. Time is of the essence, as once this information is overwritten, discarded, or otherwise lost, it simply does not come back. Try as hard as it might, the show Serial could not uncover the degree of truth that an unbiased camera likely recorded.

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