LawSoc welcomed Dean Strang and Jerry Buting to a packed out Goldsmith hall to discuss their involvement with the Netflix series, Making a Murderer.
The series, which premiered last December, centres around the case of Steven Avery who was convicted of murder in 2007. Strang and Buting were Avery’s legal counsel.
Avery was wrongly convicted of attempted murder and sexual assault and served 18 years in prison, before being exonerated in 2003; however the series focuses on Avery’s later trial, and eventual imprisonment, for his alleged part in the murder of Theresa Halbach.
While the successful Netflix show makes no conclusive judgement on his part in the murder it brought to light allegations of police tampering and conflicts of interest that may have led to his incarceration.
As a result of the popularity of the show, which Netflix recently announced would have a second season, Strang and Buting have become two of the most famous lawyers in the world.
The pair were invited to Trinity to receive the Trinity Praeses Elit award from LawSoc, for “individuals who have truly excelled in their chosen vocation”.
After presenting them with the award Hilary Hogan, the LawSoc Auditor, introduced Buting and Strang and said that Making a Murderer was a “disturbing insight into our justice system”.
The hour-long talk did not only cover the trial at the heart of the hit TV series. Indeed Strang was emphatic that Making a Murderer was not completely about the trial but rather about the US justice system; the flaws of which became clear over the course of the event.
Both lawyers spoke at length about how impoverishment and race can change individuals’ experiences with the justice system. Nonetheless despite his criticisms, Strang said that we should not abandon the project of justice and we should believe in the possibility of progress.
Especially interesting was Strang’s and Buting’s personal experiences as defence lawyers, something that both agreed had its high and lows. Buting said that the Stephen Avery’s trial was especially difficult to lose, but that in all cases it was important to carry on going for the next client.
Of course the event would not have been complete without some discussion about the TV series, although both Strang and Buting were unwilling to go into detail about their personal thoughts about Avery’s innocence.
Nonetheless they defended the impartiality of Making a Murderer arguing that it covered the most important parts of evidence that were put forward in the trial and covered the major issues.