The Real Lesson of “Making a Murderer”

Sometimes I think I am getting old. Over the past 35 years I have served as a police officer, prosecuting attorney, defense attorney and Magistrate Judge. In my younger years, some might say I was even a bit of a hooligan. In short, I have seen all sides of the law.

Over the years we seen dozens of television shows about the law and criminal investigation. Many illustrate incredible investigative skills of police, investigators and prosecutors. Oftentimes the police violate the constitutional rights of the “criminals,” in the most atrocious ways, but hey, the good guys are dynamic, heroic individuals, and the criminals are obviously guilty, so what difference does it really make, right?

Enter Making a Murderer. Making a Murderer has everything necessary to spark controversy and engage the emotions. A criminal – a convicted burglar who also threatened the wife of a deputy sheriff with a gun, does not seem like a nice person. Law Enforcement that hates this man – for who he is and for what he has done. Citizen against government. A bad man and a government determined to see him convicted, perhaps at any cost.

The beauty of Making a Murderer is that it is bringing to the attention of the people the true danger of government. It is run by people. People with emotions, biases, prejudices, ambitions. People who can become corrupt. But Making a Murderer should also remind us of the beauty of our Constitution, which provides checks and balances to counteract these dangers.

Our legal system is appropriately called an adversarial system. A prosecutor’s job is to prove a defendant is guilty. A defense attorney’s job is to establish reasonable doubt. Each has a duty to zealously advocate for their position.

The check and balance? The Jury. It is the duty of the jury to examine all the evidence and determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant.

Making a Murderer emphasizes the possibility of corruption of the government and the ability of those in power to manipulate evidence. It illustrates the need for quality defense attorneys, fair judges and impartial juries. Quality defense attorneys and impartial juries are the best defense to a corrupt system. Making a Murderer illustrates why it is so important for every defendant to be represented by competent counsel and for each of us to embrace the opportunity to serve on a jury, to be part of the solution, part of the checks and balances that the Constitution places on our government.

If there is a take-away from Making a Murderer it should be this. Be diligent when you vote for elected officials – they may ultimately control your future. Understand the need for quality defense attorneys who can advocate for their clients and expose government improprieties. Be willing to serve on a jury, to become the “check and balance” that the Constitution guarantees each one of us. And of course, never talk to law enforcement without your attorney present.

Disclaimer:As of this date, 1/17/16, all information within this article is accurate and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Readers should not rely on this information as it is possible for laws to change.