Jerry Buting, a Wisconsin defense lawyer who became a streaming video figure in the Netflix documentary “Making a Murderer,” visited Chase Tuesday to talk with students about the case that has a following far beyond most any in their casebooks.
“Making a Murderer” had a 10-episode run that began late 2015 and recounted the trial and conviction of a Wisconsin man, Steven Avery, for murder, two years after he had been released after 18 years in prison on a wrongful conviction in an unrelated sexual assault case. The murder trial gained notoriety when his lawyers suggested a possibly improperly protected blood sample from the assault case could have been used to plant incriminating evidence in the murder case.
“People like to ask,” Buting said, “‘Do you think he is innocent?’ I don’t want to answer, because that does not focus on the issue of, did he get a fair trial?” Allowing the traditional distinction between “innocent” and “proven guilty,” Buting added: “I always felt he was not guilty at the time. There were too many unanswered questions, too many things that did not fit.”
“Making a Murderer,” which is expected to have a second season that focuses on post-conviction developments, has been criticized by the prosecution for a defense bias, and praised by others for production value and presentation of legal issues.
“I hear it a lot from lawyers that this has done a lot for the image of lawyers, and the profession as a whole,” Buting told his Chase audience.