If you haven’t heard, on December 18th Netflix released a new documentary series called Making a Murderer. The first season (10 one-hour parts) recounts the riveting story of Wisconsin’s own Steven Avery, a man who was imprisoned for sexual assault and attempted murder, and who was later exonerated. He filed a $36 million lawsuit against Manitowoc County and then found himself accused of a murder there. On Point fans will recognize most, maybe all, of the lawyers in the documentary’s cast: Steve Glynn, Walt Kelly, Mike Griesbach, Reesa Evans, Rob Henak, Dean Strang, Jerry Buting, and former DA Ken Kratz--to name a few. Public Defenders Suzanne Hagopian and Martha Askins make cameo appearances in the film.
It’s definitely worth your time. The Atlantic reports that Avery’s story “attracted the directors’ attention when they realized how unprecedented his case was. Why would a man who was exonerated by DNA evidence—essentially an Innocence Project poster boy—get out only to then commit a heinous rape and murder? Making a Murderer digs into Avery’s past, his family, and mountains of evidence, asking, did the injustice he suffered make him into a murderer? Or did the officials threatened by Avery’s suit take it upon themselves to make him into one in the eyes of the law?” You’ll have to decide for yourself. The New York Times warns: “After watching the story of Steven Avery, it’s difficult not to immediately postulate theories and throw things at your screen as you rage against the imperfections of the American justice system.” And Forbes asks: “[W]hich part of it makes you the most furious? Which thing that occurs is the most ludicrous miscarriage of justice in your view?”
The film has generated lots of buzz. On the serious side, NBCnews.com says thousands have signed a petition asking President Obama to pardon Steven Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey. If the petition garners 100,000 signatures (which seems quite possible) then the Executive Branch must issue a public response.
On the light side, it seems that some of Wisconsin’s legal eagles have acquired “heartthrob” status because of their appearances in the documentary. Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute on The Office) is surely smitten. He posted this photo on Instagram #makingamurderer. Bottom line: Watch Making a Murderer!
Also deserving recognition are Brendan Dassey’s appellate team, now working for him in federal court: Steve Drizen and Laura Nirider from the Northwestern University Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, and local counsel Robert Dvorak.