×

‘Making a Murderer’ Defendants Still Feeling Impact From Series

Netflix’s “Making a Murderer” swept up audiences with the story of Steven Avery, who had previously been exonerated for a crime after spending 18 years in prison, and Brendan Dassey, his nephew, as murder suspects in the killing of Teresa Halbach in 2005. The series brought to the fore questions about the tactics used by law enforcement and the prosecution. But the impact of the Netflix series went beyond stunning audiences and generating a White House petition for the release of Avery.

Steven Drizin, who works at the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, is Dassey’s current lawyer. [Dassey was convicted of murder, among other charges, in 2007 when he was 17.] Drizin believes he knows why the series has struck a chord with millions of viewers. “I think the series has really opened people’s eyes to just how overzealous law enforcement can be in their efforts to gain a conviction at all costs,” he says.

For Dassey’s case in particular, Drizin says, it “has raised serious concerns about how police officers interrogate suspects, particularly youthful suspects.” The series has also served to “educate people about the problem of false and coerced confessions.” Not only that, but it has also called into question whether “police officers and prosecutors in the zeal to win cases are willing to trample on suspects’ basic constitutional rights, even to go so far as to plant evidence.”

On the flipside, while the series has created clouded perspectives about law enforcement, it has uplifted certain areas of the legal system.

“For the first time, in my lifetime, two of the heroes are criminal defense attorneys — [Steven Avery co-counsels] Dean Strang and Jerry Buting. They are being praised for fighting like hell on behalf of a client who was accused of committing the most awful of crimes,” Drizin says. “You don’t see defense attorneys getting that kind of acclaim very often.”

Drizin thinks that the overall impact of the series has created a chance for Dassey.

“The fact that so many people are outraged by what they saw gives me hope that this could be a real opportunity for change,” says Drizin.

More TV

  • UTA

    UTA Launches Sports Division, Invests in Klutch Sports Group

    UTA is diving into the sports arena through an investment in Klutch Sports Group, the agency that represents LeBron James and other stars. Klutch Sports founder Rich Paul will serve as head of the newly created UTA Sports wing in addition to running his own banner. Paul launched Klutch Sports in 2012 in Cleveland. UTA [...]

  • The Ultimate Guide to 2019 Comic-Con

    The Ultimate Guide to 2019 Comic-Con Parties and Activations

    Hollywood is heading down the California coast to San Diego because It’s time for 2019 Comic-Con International. The annual cosplay celebration officially kicks off tomorrow, July 18, with a preview happening tonight. Here, Variety gives you a guide to this year’s parties and activations. Make sure to check back for updates. Wednesday, July 17Amazon Prime [...]

  • Ken Ehrlich Jane Ortner Education Award,

    Grammy Awards Producer Shuffle: Ben Winston to Take Over From Ken Ehrlich in 2021

    As Variety reported in December, Ben Winston will take the reins of the Grammy Awards as executive producer in 2021 after longtime telecast leader Ken Ehrlich completes his 40th ceremony next year. Winston has become a prolific producer for CBS and other outlets since he moved to the U.S. nearly five years ago to launch [...]

  • Sarah Wright Takes Charge of Sky

    Sarah Wright Takes Charge of Sky Cinema After Management Shuffle

    Sarah Wright, Sky’s top acquisitions exec, will take on responsibility for Sky Cinema after a management shuffle at the pay-TV giant. Wright fills a role vacated by Ian Lewis, who recently left Sky after 20 years. He was one of several Sky staffers to leave after its takeover by Comcast. As director of Sky Cinema [...]

  • Jodi Long Running for SAG-AFTRA Secretary-Treasurer

    Jodi Long Running for SAG-AFTRA Secretary-Treasurer on Matthew Modine Slate

    Veteran actress and union activist Jodi Long is running for secretary-treasurer of SAG-AFTRA as a member of Matthew Modine’s progressive Membership First slate. She is facing Camryn Manheim, who announced her candidacy on July 9 as part of the Unite for Strength slate for the re-election of union president Gabrielle Carteris. Unite for Strength and United [...]

  • BAFTA Backs BIFA’s Unconscious-Bias Training for

    BIFA’s Unconscious-Bias Training Rolls Out to BAFTA Voters, Wider Industry (EXCLUSIVE)

    The British Independent Film Awards is opening up its unconscious-bias training to BAFTA voters and, more widely, to anyone who judges the work of others in the film and TV business in the U.K. With the makeup of award-nominee and -winner lists under close scrutiny, BIFA introduced its unconscious-bias training last year. Its voters, jurors, [...]

  • New U.K. Film and TV Studio

    New U.K. Film and TV Studio Proposed for Leeds, in Northern England

    With studio space in high demand, a sizable new film and TV complex has been proposed for Leeds, the city in northern England that is fast becoming a major U.K. media hub outside of London. It has already been selected as the base for Channel 4’s new national headquarters, and companies such as pay-TV giant [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content