What to Watch: Making a Murderer
In my opinion (and the documentary makers' it seems) this story is about a crazy miscarriage of justice. It's a bit like Serial but in a video form. It follows the case of Steven Avery, a poor, white, hillbilly who's known for being outside of the law (as is his whole family). He's convicted of a crime he didn't commit (and it seems he was set up to be convicted by the local police) and serves 18 years, only to be exonerated by DNA evidence and released from jail. He sues the county for 36 million dollars and to make sure the miscarriage of justice doesn't happen to anyone else. Then, he's arrested and convicted of murder. We follow both cases and appeals.
Each episode is just enthralling--watching the twists and turns of the cases, watching the Wisconsin Justice system fail, watching how difficult it is for a poor person to get convicted, watching the heroic defense attorneys try to make a dent in the corruption... I was just floored. I can't recommend this series highly enough.
From Netflix: Filmed over a 10-year period, Making a Murderer is an unprecedented real-life thriller about Steven Avery, a DNA exoneree who, while in the midst of exposing corruption in local law enforcement, finds himself the prime suspect in a grisly new crime. Set in America's heartland, the series takes viewers inside a high-stakes criminal case where reputation is everything and things are never as they appear.
The most uplifting part of this documentary are Avery's lawyers. Particularly Dean Stang and Jerry Buting. (People are in love with them, my friend Kelly <3s Stang) They're the heroes of the story--they're trying their best to fight for justice when it seems the deck is stacked against their client. You just wish there were more lawyers willing to take these cases on. Avery's nephew could have used a smart, thoughtful legal team in his corner.
Also: the prosecutors are asserting that important info was left out of the documentary. I don't know... I still feel like this was a bit of a set up...
And: a Juror had some interesting light to shed on the subject.
I'd love to see a TV show come out that doesn't demonize defense lawyers and instead shows this side of them, or maybe it could be about the Innocence Project or something (and other victims of crimes who get railroaded... like in Just Mercy.). It would be an interesting foil to all of the police shows out there. I'm sure there are good guys, bad guys, in between guys at every law firm and AD office. I'd like to see the whole range on the small screen. (Maybe The Good Wife? Maybe some particular episodes of Castle? Maybe a little bit of White Collar? Am I missing anything that has defense attorneys as heroes?)
Watch: The Devil's Knot is a fictionalization of a true crime / wrongful conviction known as the West Memphis Three, that I found really heart breaking and shocking. Or watch The Jinx which is an about face--the murderer in this story has, so far, gotten away with his crimes.
Read: Just Mercy by Bryan Stephenson a book about many, many miscarriages of justice. It talks about what Justice is in this country, and who is deserving of mercy.
Listen: Season 1 of Serial. If you haven't listened already, it's time to jump on that bandwagon.
P.S. Buzzfeed interviewed the documentary makers. The makers are still talking to Steve Avery and documenting the case, so there may be more in the future. You never know.
AND some useful Netflix tips and tricks from Thrillist