Amazing 'Making a Murderer' Doc Shines Harsh Light on Lawyers
Forget 'Serial,' forget 'The Jinx,' forget even the best T.V. show of our time -- 'How to Get Away With Murder.' The newest, greatest true law, true crime drama is Netflix's 'Making a Murderer.' It's a documentary of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who wrongly served 18 years for sexual assault, only to be charged with murder soon after his release -- a crime the documentary suggests he was framed for.
'Making a Murderer' hasn't just brought new attention to Avery's case though, it's shone a bright and unflattering light on the lawyers involved. Now, Avery's defense attorney is justifying his performance to People magazine, Internet vigilantes are destroying the prosecutor's Yelp page, and even the hacktivist group Anonymous is getting into this fustercluck.
The Backstory -- Warning, Spoilers Ahead
Here's the Cliff Notes version of 'Making a Murderer:' in 1986, Avery was charged with sexually assaulting a woman, even though evidence shows he nowhere near the scene of the crime. He's convicted. After 18 years in jail and the intervention of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, Avery is exonerated by DNA evidence. Avery sues Manitowoc County for $36 million and, just a year later, is arrested for the murder of Teresa Halbach. He's again convicted. The documentary (and the defense team) implies that Avery was framed by the police, in retaliation for his suit.
If you're not already streaming it on Netflix, the first episode is available on YouTube.
Once you get that out of the way, you've only got nine more hours to go. You'll be done by dinner.
It's fair to say that the attorneys involved in Avery's case don't come out looking too good.
Agreed. To us lawyers, it's like a surgeon watching a butcher mutilate a living human. https://t.co/sZg6MIxB6n-- Willie Peacock, esq (@PeacockEsq) December 29, 2015
Blame the Prosecutor
Angry netizens, Internet pitchforks in hand, have taken to the Yelp page of former Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz's law practice. Kratz lead the prosecution of Avery for Halbach's murder. One Yelp reviewer declares, "I'm not sure I've ever seen, met, encountered or otherwise engaged a more arrogantly dishonest and evil person."
Those Yelp reviewers have also brought new attention to a 2010 sexting scandal that cause Kratz to resign and resulted in his license being suspended. One five-star review begins: "Are you a victim of a sex crime in need of some self-esteem-enhancing sexts from an older affluent (by Wisconsin standards) mustachio-ed lothario?"
Kratz's Yelp page is now on lockdown, but his average review still stands at a sad one and a half stars.
The Defense Defends Its Defense
While Kratz takes heat, the Internet seems to be in love with Avery's defense team -- despite their failure to keep him out of jail. Avery's defense attorney, Dean Strang, recently took to People to defend his performance. It's Strang and co-counsel Jerome Buting, who originally advanced the idea that police were framing Avery, but the duo was caught off guard by state blood testing. "We didn't necessarily anticipate as well as we should have that the prosecution would scramble to get some testing on the blood vial," Strang says. "We didn't anticipate that well enough in advance and prepare for that eventuality."
Anonymous to the Rescue?
Finally, there's the activists with Anonymous. The group has "set up a Twitter account to taunt the two police officers who are profiled in the film, claiming that they have found emails and phone records" showing that evidence was planted, according to The Independent. They're threatening to make the documents public, but so far nothing has been released.
- Is Making a Murderer Too Hard to Watch? (LA Weekly)
- Why Should Lawyers Care About the 'Serial' Podcast? (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- 3 Child Actors Who Became Lawyers, Just Like on TV (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- 'The Jinx' Robert Durst Denied Bail (FindLaw's Blotter)