New discoveries

New discoveries I do not profess to have a terribly interesting life. I like what I like. I dislike what I dislike. I like cosy evenings in pyjamas reading a book. I dislike spending late nights in seedy clubs surrounded by people who are convinced that to have a good time you should ‘get smashed’. And I’m realising that, as long as I’m happy doing whatever I’m doing, nothing else really matters. If I’m judged for my preferences, I really don’t care. What is the point in spending time doing things I DON’T want to do, when there are so many other things I know I would rather do?

Having said that, I am always open to new discoveries. Food is a great example of this. I used to be an incredibly fussy eater, and I still am to a point, but I am so much more open minded and willing to explore the unknown these days. So even though I know what I like, I am still happy to try something new. If I don’t like it, I don’t have to ever have it again. It isn’t just food though. I like to think I embrace this philosophy much more generally, as and when necessary. For the rest of the time, I’m happy just doing what I do. Being me. Life doesn’t have to be interesting or exciting. Not all the time. It just has to make me content.

I have a rather addictive personality. And by that, I don’t mean it’s impossible to dislike me. It’s probably quite possible. I simply mean that I become quite easily obsessed with things. For instance, if I hear a new song I love, I will listen to it on repeat. I once went a month having cheese and ham toasted sandwiches pretty much every single day. You get the picture. This week I made two new discoveries. Discoveries which fascinated and compelled me. The first was this. This might seem interesting but insignificant. But to me, it was interesting and incredibly significant. Why? When I was a law student at Cardiff University, I was assigned to this very case as part of the Innocence Project. I read Dwaine George’s case files. I went through interview transcripts, legal papers, trial documents. Evidence. I worked in a small team to try and find the inconsistencies and explain them. I’m disappointed to say, we didn’t get far. But then, some seven or eight years later, I discover that this very same man has been set free as a result of the Cardiff University Innocence Project. His conviction has been ruled ‘no longer safe’. He has been a victim of a miscarriage of justice.

I can’t really explain how it made me feel to read about it. I can’t even imagine a situation like that. For an innocent person to be found guilty of a crime they didn’t commit. It’s terrifying. If I knew back then, for sure, that Dwaine was innocent, I would like to think my commitment to the case would have been more substantial. But you can never be sure. Especially as a young naïve student.

This leads me to my second discovery. This is where my addictive personality comes into play. In a strange coincidence, completely unrelated to the above, it concerns an investigation into a man convicted of a murder in 1999. His name is Adnan Syed. He has always maintained that he is innocent of the crime of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. If you recognise these names, you probably know about Serial. Serial is a podcast series narrated by Sarah Koenig, an investigative journalist, who delves headfirst into trying to figure out this case. I had never listened to a podcast series, but from the first episode, I was hooked. I finished listening to all 12 in a matter of days. I love this kind of stuff. It’s a story, but it’s real. I think that’s why it’s been so popular. And you can really feel how much Sarah wants to get to the bottom of what I consider to be a mess of a case. The kind of case where I, perhaps coming from a legal background, thinks how on earth could someone have been convicted of first degree murder based on that evidence. Or, more appropriately, lack of it. I won’t spoil it for you if it’s something you want to check out for yourself (which I would completely recommend by the way), but what I will say is that it is an utterly gripping look into the (American – Baltimore) legal system, people, and memories. So many questions that really suck you in. It’s exceptionally thought-provoking and truly does make me wonder how many miscarriages of justice really do occur. It’s impossible for the legal system to be perfect, to get it right every time, but there are some glaring flaws that I find astonishing. And I’ve sat on a jury myself, so I know the experience from both sides.

I didn’t think I would enjoy a podcast series. I didn’t think it would hold my attention. But my goodness was I wrong. And now that there is a big Serial shaped hole in my life, I will have to discover something else. All ideas welcome.

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