I recently saw this article on Lawnewz.com which discusses an interview in which Steven Avery, of Making a Murderer fame, dissed his two trial attorneys, Dean Strang and Jerome Buting, claiming that but for their ineffective assistance of counsel, he wouldn’t be sitting in prison.
That’s the biggest bunch of crap I’ve heard since President Obama told us that if we liked our health care plan, we could keep it.
I have not dog in this fight, but as I wrote previously, Making a Murder was a fantastic and engrossing documentary which I think highlighted Strang’s and Buting’s fine work in defense of Steven Avery. After watching the documentary, I wasn’t convinced one way or another about Avery’s guilt. I just thought I would have liked to have watched the unedited video of the whole trial before making a decision, because who knows what was left on the cutting room floor?
But Steven Avery just convinced me of his guilt with his recent comments about Strand and Buting. Not very often does a criminal defendant get the high level of defense Avery got. If anyone should know this, Avery should, considering what happened to him when he was first wrongfully convicted while receiving ineffective assistance of counsel.
Just look at Avery’s recent letter in which Avery claims, among other things, that Strang and Buting didn’t investigate his case and were just simply protecting the State! At least I think that’s what Avery said. Here’s an excerpt of exactly what he wrote:
10. Dean and Jerry didn’t do no investigation on this case, if they did I would not be in prison, They would have the Suspect if they did there job!!
11. Dean and Jerry all they were doing is predict the state and there lawfirm,
12. Lawyers should be responsible for they wrong doing!!!
13. Lawyers sould loose there license when they dont investigate they case to proof there Client’s and they Violating the Ethics, the State sould take there license for good.
I agree with Steven Avery that criminal defense lawyers that fail to do their jobs should lose their bar cards. It’s all too common and in the criminal justice world, the ramifications for a client or potentially life-threatening.
But for Avery to criticize two attorneys who obviously worked their tails off in his defense just convinces me that Avery has a screw loose and is probably guilty of the murder. What’s amazing and what Avery fails to understand is that the fact that reasonable people are arguing over Avery’s innocence in the case speaks volumes on how effective Strang and Buting were.
Of course, it’s easy for me to say this because I have not ever been wrongfully convicted of a crime as a result of ineffective assistance of counsel, then years later being freed, only to find myself in prison again. But hopefully one day Avery will realize he was the beneficiary of the diligence and persistence of his two fine trial attorneys. And I bet his current attorney, Kathleen Zellner, will benefit from their hard work in her current defense of Avery.
I think what really bothers me about Avery’s comments is the “cry wolf” issue. Not every inmate in prison is there because if incompetent counsel. But a lot of inmates think that, regardless of their true innocence or guilt.
Here’s a couple of cases from Nevada about a real claim of ineffective assistance of counsel at trial and on appeal, if you want to know how bad it can get. Read these and weep.
Gibbs v. LeGrand, 767 F. 3d 879 (2014)
Rudin v. Myles, 766 F. 3d 1161 (2014)
Rudin v. Myles, 781 F. 3d 1043 (2015) (supersedes Rudin, 766 F. 3d 1161)
Here’s a recent video of Strang and Buting delivering an address to the National College for DUI Defense: