The release last month of the 10-part Netflix documentary of Making a Murderer, appears to have traded in the traditional portrayals of the truth-seeking investigator, replacing it with a view of a more dysfunctional criminal justice system. This view includes trial flaws, police corruption and prosecutorial bias. In fact, the public perception of our criminal justice system has taken some serious hits over the past few years. We have witnessed shocking abuses of law enforcement in Chicago, Cleveland, Missouri and elsewhere. In Making a Murderer, it became evident how many factors go into a jury’s eventual decision which are not actually based on evidence.
Public Trust in the Criminal Justice System Severely Eroded
From manipulations by the prosecutor of the jury, to the fact that eyewitness accounts have been deemed largely unreliable, it becomes more and more evident that an innocent person can absolutely be found guilty. There is even the question of conflict of interest, in that an assistant district attorney is required to win cases in order to have a shot at district attorney. This means that, in some cases, the state prosecutor may go to great lengths to win, even if that means circumventing the truth. While the public’s trust in police power has been severely eroded, so too has the failure of due process in our current legal system. When taken as a whole, unreliable witnesses, overly forceful interrogations, flawed forensics, sloppy police work and the pitiful condition of state-funded criminal defense lawyers come together to make anyone leery of our justice system.
Can We Continue to Call Blatant Abuse of Power “Human Error?”
Prosecutor Tim McGinty described the incident which cost Tamir Rice his live in November 2014 as “a perfect storm of human error.” While most of us commit some sort of human error, probably even on a daily basis, our errors don’t have the power that those of law enforcement do. In the United States, law enforcement power is mighty, and their authority generally goes unquestioned—in fact, many believe that regardless of how they act, we are at the mercy of those with a badge. This fact makes us wonder whether we are truly safe from the system which claims to protect us (innocent until proven guilty?)
Negligent or Malicious?
The Making a Murderer series seems to portray a police department, which was either totally negligent or flat-out malicious. While Steven Avery is not a minority, in many ways he suffered from a plight which exceeds color—that of being poor. In fact, Avery has been described as a somewhat creepy, ill-educated, poor person. Avery was exonerated for the crime which cost him 18 years of his life in prison, and his lawsuit against the sheriff’s department for that wrongful conviction (for $36 million) begs the question as to whether there is a powerful motive for that department to attempt to “dispose” of Avery.
Manitowoc County sheriff Kenneth Peterson has gone on record as saying he refuses to accept the DNA evidence which overturned Avery’s previous rape conviction and that it would be “easier to kill” Avery than frame him, therefore the current charges must be legitimate. The district attorney in the Avery’s case used the belief of most people in the honesty of authority figures to make citizens ignore the plethora of issues associated with Avery’s case.
Wrongful Convictions Do Happen
Post-conviction DNA testing and the work of Innocence Projects across the nation have exonerated more than 1,700 defendants, heightening the awareness of potential errors, and showing the American public that wrongful convictions can and do happen. In fact, we may never know for certain whether Steven Avery is guilty of the murder of Teresa Halbach, and, she—as well as all victims of violent acts—deserves a resolution.
This resolution should not come at the expense of a fair, impartial criminal justice system, and those in positions of power should not be allowed to abuse that power. The prosecutor in Avery’s trial stated in his closing statement that “reasonable doubts are for innocent people.” This statement seems to assert that the prosecutor or the police are in charge of determining who is innocent and who is guilty, yet that would go against everything our criminal justice system is supposed to stand for.
Contact Our Boulder Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime in Boulder, Denver, or anywhere in the State of Colorado, it is important to contact an experienced Boulder criminal defense lawyer immediately. You have a right to a fair trial and your attorney will be able to build a solid defense against your charges and protect your future. Contact the Boulder criminal defense lawyers at Steven Louth Law Offices today for a free consultation and review of your case. Call us at (303) 422-2297 to start building a solid defense against these serious criminal charges.