Netflix's new docu-series Making a Murderer, which takes a deeply skeptical look at the prosecution of rural Wisconsin man Steven Avery for the murder of Teresa Halbach in 2005, has garnered a robust audience, as well as more than a few impassioned reactions from its viewers. After all, Avery was wrongly convicted of rape in the 1980s, only to be exonerated after serving 18 years inside. Over 400,000 people have now signed a Change.org petition to urge President Obama and Governor Scott Walker to pardon Avery. (Obama, the White House clarified last week, cannot intervene, since this is a state case, and Walker does not seem high on the idea, either.)
But after it was announced late last week that Avery had secured new legal representation, Green Bay's Action 2 News has made public a copy of an appeal of his conviction that appears to have been filed by Avery himself. The error-laden appeal, which was filed on Monday and can be read in full on Scribd, argues that the state's evidence against Avery had been obtained wrongly and therefore was "FRUIT OF THE POISONOUS TREE." The appeal also argues that Avery was the victim of a series of improper jury procedures.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Ken Kratz, who prosecuted Avery in 2005, called the idea that Avery was framed "nonsense," claiming the evidence the state of Wisconsin obtained was "completely inconsistent with any kind of planting (evidence)"—the exact charge levied by Making a Murderer's filmmakers. (Kratz subsequently resigned and had his law license suspended amid a sexting scandal.)
Of course, according to law professor and exoneration expert Samuel Gross, it's completely possible that a guilty person might be victim to all sorts of procedural misconduct. In an interview with VICE published Tuesday, Gross said, "In the great majority of cases, perhaps almost all of them where law enforcement, prosecutors, or police have engaged in misconduct to try to convict somebody, they believe that that person is guilty. They may frame somebody, but the usual type of misconduct that we're aware of is framing people they believe are guilty. And very likely in most cases, they frame people who are guilty."
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