Episode 10: The Best Defense is a Good Defense

*Spoilers Ahead*

The episode opens with a recording of the jury selection process in Adnan's first trial in Baltimore. The judge is looking for any potential prejudice, and Adnan's mother is very aware of the potential for discrimination against Muslims. At first Sarah is skeptical, but taking a further look in at the prosecution's statement at the bail hearing, things take a super racist turn. Multiple mosques raise money for Adnan's case, and they fill up the courtroom in support at the bail hearing. But by the time the prosecution makes its case about why bail should not be set, claiming that the community that was in the courtroom would assist Adnan in running, things get really upsetting. A statement made by a former science teacher who used the word "brooding" to describe Adnan included a line about him having an uncle in Pakistan who could make people "disappear". Things get increasingly racist and privileged during this segment, I think I had a rage blackout during my first listen. I'm with Rabia on this one.


Weeks later, the prosecutor from the hearing writes a letter of apology to the court about misconstruing information about a supposed pattern of Pakistani men fleeing the country to avoid conviction for crimes against women. Basically, this pattern only exists because of one case where another man did this once.

Then there is a lot of talk about the Muslim culture and it's treatment of women, and how that somehow plays into this trial about two American teens. Basically, everyone saw the infamous movie "Not Without My Daughter" and decided that's how everything is for all Muslims everywhere.

Then we get into the meat of the trial, and into Cristina Gutierrez's track record. According to Adnan, she was incredible and very personable and protective of him. Aside from the misstep of the Asia McClain letter, Adnan felt she did her absolute best at representing him. And from the recordings of the first trial, she sounds really competent. That is, until the judge catches her in misinforming him about her having viewed all of the evidence. She's a bit of a pitbull in the courtroom, and she comes off as brusque when dealing with the prosecutors. He calls her to the bench and calls her a liar in front of the court, and she gets into a loud argument with him which the jury can hear. This ends up becoming part of the reason for the mistrial after most of the prosecution's case has already been heard.


By the time the second trial rolls around, she is more confident. But her speech is so circular that her strategy seems unclear to everyone, including the jury. She spent more time focusing on Jay and Mr. S than she did on the evidence provided, such as the call log. She actually hits lightning in a bottle when she discovers that the attorney representing Jay was actually introduced to him by the prosecutor. From the way it sounds, the prosecution had made their timeline and needed someone on their side. Jay didn't have any representation, and could not be provided one unless he was convicted, so the court convicted him for being an accessory to the crime and then immediately turned around and gave him a lawyer pro bono and he signs a plea deal. Unfortunately the jury is not present for Cristina's freakout at the fact that this is coming out so late. The judge says that despite the fact that this is indeed fishy, she's dismissing it because Jay doesn't seem to understand that this was a benefit.

As time goes on, the shine on Cristina's track record as one of the best attorneys in the country starts to diminish. Her health is waning, and she is demanding more and more money from her clients, including asking Adnan's parents for $10,000 cash to pay for a jury expert who was never actually hired. She threatened to take their house. After losing Adnan's case, her clerk says she was deeply affected by the loss and became really depressed.

Around the same time, she was messing up on other cases and demanding lots of money. It seems her health was failing but she wasn't giving up, effectively doubling down and asking for more money despite the fact that she probably wouldn't be able to work. She pushed and insisted on working even when she was in the hospital.


Sarah then goes on to clarify the news that came out this week about the appeal scheduled for January 14th. The appeal is for post conviction relief, which was initially denied, and has now been brought to the Maryland Court of Special appeals. The court has asked the state to respond to the one thread they have left, which was of ineffective assistance of council. The appeal is in regards to Adnan asking for a plea deal, and while the prosecution said that one was never offered, Cristina didn't go seeking one out either. Adnan knows that innocence is hard to fight for and now that he understands how convictions work, he will take whatever he can get. He's technically eligible for parole, but the odds are really slim.

Here are the two original articles written by Sarah about Cristina Gutierrez, the first covers the numerous complaints from clients and the second covers her agreement to be disbarred.


Adnan's attorney, C. Justin Brown, calls this appeal the last step and Adnan's last best chance at freedom. Justin Brown is a former journalist and and Baltimore native who has been representing Adnan over the past 5 years. Here is the profile on his page about his history with post conviction cases.


Bonus: what of Serial were a TV show?