The Docket: Making A Murderer After Show - Episode 1

Totally not copied by the police from the mug shot (below) - except it totally was.

Totally not copied by the police from the mug shot (below) - except it totally was.

Subscribe to The Docket on iTunes to get the latest episode pumped straight into your earbuds. If you like the show your subscriptions, comments and ratings really help us (so do that and then do it on your mom's computer too) - Click Here

On December 18, 2015, Netflix released its engaging and controversial docu-series, Making a Murderer.  In the three weeks since its release, the series has become an obsession for all kinds of people both inside and outside of the justice system in the United States as well as here in Canada.

Each episode we (Michael Spratt and Emilie Taman) will discuss an episode of Making a Murderer - call it an after show.  This week we are joined by special guest, former Supreme Court Justice and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour (she has promised to join us again). So a former judge, defence lawyer, and former prosecutor - not a bad team for episode one.

Episode One of Making a Murderer tells the story of Steven Avery’s wrongful conviction for the brutal 1985 sexual assault of Penny Beernsten.  An incontrovertible miscarriage of justice, Avery’s conviction led to his incarceration for 18 years before he was conclusively exonerated by DNA evidence and released.  Avery’s 18 year-long saga, which could stand alone as a story worth documenting, is just the back story for what was to come as set out in the subsequent nine episodes. 

Avery Mug Shot.png

One of the truly remarkable things about the series is the amount of audio and video footage filmmakers Moria Demos and Laura Ricardi were able to either capture or obtain.  This is attributable to the length of time they worked on the project (over a decade), the frequency with which police and prosecutors spoke to the media (lots), and the practice of videotaping court proceedings, something which is very foreign to us here in Canada.

What emerges is a story about how, starting with his false accusation in 1985, the justice system failed Steven Avery.  How the presumption of innocence yielded time and time again to overzealous cops and District Attorneys intent on securing a conviction at all costs.  Ultimately though, Making a Murderer is about every accused person in the US, Canada or anywhere.  It’s about what it’s like to be confronted by the full resources of the State. 

I’m not sure what it says about my Netflix viewing habits, but Making a Murderer popped up as a recommendation for me immediately upon its release. An algorithm somewhere had apparently determined that it was something I might enjoy. I’m not sure that “enjoy” is quite the right word, but I certainly found the series riveting, and consumed it pretty much as fast as a mother with three young children possibly can (for me binge watching a show usually involves watching one episode and in the unlikely event that I’m able to stay awake for the whole thing, immediately falling asleep upon starting the next).

My spouse, Mike, was initially more skeptical. A criminal defence counsel by profession, he generally finds justice system dramatizations insufferable to watch. I think it’s partly because he typically finds the portrayals to be unrealistic (oftentimes offensively-so) and partly because it’s so close to his work that it’s not enjoyable to spend his leisure time watching it. He wasn’t even a big fan of Serial, the hugely popular NPR podcast documenting another likely miscarriage of justice, which I consumed from start to finish three times. It took a little convincing on my part to get him to watch Making a Murderer with me, but after the first episode we were both equally hooked.
— Emilie Taman

Subscribe to The Docket on iTunes to get the latest episode pumped straight into your earbuds. If you like the show your subscriptions, comments and ratings really help us (so do that and then do it on your mom's computer too) - Click Here

You can also access the podcast on SoundCloud.

Emilie on Twitter: @EmilieTaman

Michael on Twitter: @mspratt

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