Netflix’s Making A Murderer (“MAM”) has certainly made a splash. I watched it before Christmas, having just stumbled across it on Netflix late one night. Once I started watching, I couldn’t stop.
I won’t rehash the story here and won’t spoil the ending, but MAM is essential watching for lawyers and law students and for anyone with any interest at all in our criminal justice system.
I occasionally take criminal cases when I believe an injustice has occurred. In MAM, there were many injustices, starting with the wrongful conviction of Steven Avery.
Usually when injustices occur in our criminal justice system it’s due to a weak or lazy criminal defense, or an unscrupulous prosecutor or police or a combination of all of these factors. In MAM, you will see all of these factors played out.
But I was very impressed with Avery’s two trial defense attorneys, Dean Strang and Jerry Buting. They are examples of two lawyers at the top of their game who both appear to be dedicated to their client first. They were prepared and professional and dedicated. For example, in the series you see Strand and Buting visiting the crime scene and inspecting it and discussing the evidence. I can’t tell you how many defense attorneys representing clients in a trial have never even visited the crime scene. I would bet more that 75% don’t ever even do that.
Unfortunately we often hear about the failures of defense counsel (and I don’t mean by losing a case, I mean by preparing a case properly with the client’s interest first) but we don’t hear about lawyers who work hard for their clients and by doing that help to ensure fair prosecutions and a fair criminal justice system.
It was most refreshing to see Strang and Buting in action in this troubling, but important series.