Steven Avery's case is back in the national spotlight as Netflix debuted the second season of Making a Murderer, nearly three years after the first season created a furor across the country.
In response, we revisited the six times we talked with Super Lawyers selectees involved in Avery's case to get their perspective on this high-profile and controversial case.
In 2005, Super Lawyers talked with Robert Henak, the Milwaukee appellate attorney who began representing Avery in 1994, who had already spent eight years in prison after he was convicted of rape:
Although Henak was certain of Avery's innocence, he was unable to get the conviction overturned. "It's a case that has really haunted me," says Henak, who spent three years working on Avery's behalf. "Going through the legal system, I was unable to help him, even though I had DNA evidence I thought showed that the trial was not fair."
Then, in 2007, four years after the dismissal of Avery's conviction and his release from prison, Super Lawyers discussed Avery with Stephen Glynn, whose firm began representing Avery in 1996.
Glynn never got over the feeling of guilt he felt the day Avery was arrested for the photographer's murder.
"I wanted to pull the covers over my head," Glynn says. "The impact emotionally was almost palpable. He was a guy I thought I knew. I was glad my wife was with me [that day] because I could not have driven back from court after everything began pointing to Steven."
More unsettling for Glynn is the thought that this case might give the people of Wisconsin or its legislators a reason to turn against criminal justice reforms. In 2005, the Wisconsin Legislature passed reforms that required videotaped confessions in all juvenile and adult felony cases. It strengthened procedures for retention and testing of biological material, created new rules for eyewitness identification and limited the admissibility of unrecorded statements.
After Glynn, Jerry Buting and Dean Strang became Avery's attorneys, and the ones prominently featured in Making a Murderer. In 2012, Buting talked with Super Lawyers about how they got involved in the murder case:
I was called by the other attorney, Dean Strang. He and I had worked on other cases, where we'd represented co-defendants, and so we were familiar with each other's style. He thought we would complement each other well, and I think we did as the case went on. Dean has a very bright, gentlemanly, scholarly approach, and he was able to work with the prosecutors a little better than I was. It just developed where I had a little bit of the harder edge as the case proceeded. ... We weren't intending to do good cop/bad cop, but it developed that way as the case went on.
[Avery] continues to maintain his innocence, and I continue to believe the evidence was very suspicious in the case. The original jury-I think when they went out their first vote was seven "not guilty," three "guilty," and two uncertain. Then they deliberated for four and a half days before they finally convicted. So it was not a slam-dunk case. I think his fight for justice is going to go on. It may take a long time before the truth comes out.
A year after Making a Murderer aired, in 2016, Super Lawyers caught up with Strang and Buting as they toured the country talking about the good, bad and ugly of the justice system. Here's how Strang explained Making a Murderer's impact and how he reacted to the spotlight placed on him.
"Jerry and I were getting on with life, minding our own business," Strang explains. "Then Making a Murderer came out. Effectively, Jerry and I were handed a microphone. We thought that, while we have it, we should use it."
"Given my debt to the legal profession, I think it's a matter of obligation to use the microphone to useful ends: furthering a conversation about the strengths and weaknesses of our justice system, thinking about ways we ought to be improving the administration of justice. I can point to 100 other lawyers who might do a better job with the microphone than I would, but for the moment, it got handed to me."
"I think progress comes, and the speed at which progress comes is accelerated when the public begins to pay attention to how their police departments are serving their communities, how the judicial system is functioning, and whether public resources are being expended well and wisely and achieving a reliable, fair system for all of us. I see reason for guarded optimism in the public response to documentaries like Making a Murderer, The Jinx and Serial."
In the same year, Kathleen Zellner picked up Avery's case, and then in 2017, she filed a motion with new evidence. In the 2018 Illinois Super Lawyers Magazine, she explained how she approaches Avery's case and what the new information could mean moving forward.
"I do think there's certain venom with the Avery case and with the [accompanying] social media that I haven't experienced before," she says. "Whenever cases reach a level of being high-profile, you get a lot of pushback from the other side. And because this went to the level of being a documentary, it has made that even stronger. The people who are against Avery are really against him. But [the pushback] motivates me. It doesn't intimidate me."
Late 2017, Avery's motion for a new trial was denied and in June 2018, Brendan Dassey's petition to the United States Supreme Court was denied. With the newest season of the documentary released, time will tell where Avery's case ends up and how these Super Lawyers selectees will continue to be involved in a case that's grabbed the attention of millions across the country.
Read up on more Super Lawyers listees by accessing the digital editions of Super Lawyers Magazine.
The New York City skyline is a collection of greatest hits for Jonathan Mechanic. The celebrated real estate lawyer with Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson has been involved in the sale, lease or purchase of some of the most recognizable buildings in NYC, including Radio City Music Hall, the MetLife Building and the Time Warner Center. And then there's the $5.4 billion sale of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village to developer Tishman Speyer Properties. In the 2007 edition of New York Metro Super Lawyers Magazine, Mechanic let us in on his love of real estate.
Mechanic once struck up a conversation at a dinner party with the owner of a small arbitrage firm. "He told me the name of the firm and I said, 'Oh, you used to be at 30 Broad Street. Then, when the building went up next door, you relocated to 40 Broad Street, and then to Third Avenue,'" says Mechanic. "I knew all this because I'd worked on deals for each of those buildings. The man looked at me like I was from Mars."
This love of real estate runs so deep that Mechanic's wife does not let him drive through Manhattan, since he prefers to take in the architecture--some of his favorites include the GM Building, the Seagram Building, Time Warner Center and the World Financial Center--rather than watch the road. "I love every part of the city," he says. "I like having the sun roof open so that I can look around at the buildings."
Though the Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village deal would be an obvious choice for Mechanic's favorite, he knows each deal can top the last. The same day he closed the deal on Stuyvesant Town, Mechanic gave a presentation at his alma mater. The topic: "Why it's exciting to be a real estate lawyer." Mechanic began by telling the story of a double townhouse on 44th Street he closed on during his early years at Fried Frank. "It was 1978, the townhouse cost $1.4 million and I thought that was the most extraordinary amount of money. And earlier today, we just closed a deal on a property for $5.4 billion," he told the class.
Read the rest of the article on SuperLawyers.com. And be sure to check out the most recent issue of New York Metro Super Lawyers Magazine.
When Vinoo Varghese was selected to the Super Lawyers list for the first time in 2015, he'd already developed a reputation as one of New York's top white-collar criminal defense attorneys.
In nearly 20 years of practice, initially as a prosecutor and for the last 13 years as a criminal defense attorney and founder of Varghese & Associates, P.C., he's won numerous cases at both the trial level and in the appellate courts. These victories have come against, among others, the IRS and the National Security and Cyber Crimes Section of the Department of Justice, two notoriously difficult opponents. Back in the early 2000s, while a prosecutor, he headed up the "Assault on Police Officers Program," an investigative unit committed to prosecuting attempted murders of New York police officers.
That's why his Super Lawyers selection has served to further confirm his ability, to clients as well as other lawyers. Varghese receives the majority of his referrals from his peers and the Super Lawyers selection validates those attorney referrals.
"Super Lawyers is definitely a validation piece," Varghese says. "There are a few lawyers who scoff at it, but they're usually not the ones on it. You can't nominate yourself and for me, it was very important to be recognized by my peers as a Super Lawyers selectee."
The selection is another feather in his cap, as Varghese has been recognized as a Martindale AV Preeminent Attorney for the past two years and earlier in his career, the New York Law Journal named him to their Rising Stars list. When a top lawyer becomes a Super Lawyers listee, the ability to reach more people expands.
Not that Varghese is unaware of how to reach and stay connected to clients. Prolific on social media, armed with a well-designed website and the personality to succeed on TV just like in the courtroom, Varghese has built up quite a following. Selection to the Super Lawyers list and the reputation building that comes with it become mutually beneficial to someone already adept at leveraging opportunities.
Because of the SuperLawyers.com directory, Varghese has received cases through his selection and referrals from attorneys who have utilized the online directory to find him. Yet, he also backs up those selections by creating more successful work and media opportunities. Varghese is a regular ongoing contributor to major news networks such as Fox, Fox Business, CNN, HLN, CBS and MSNBC. Fighting to make sure that reputation sticks exemplifies how he's become one of the top five percent of attorneys in the New York area.
"My goal is to have my firm be the first name that people think of when they think of elite criminal defense," he said.
For a criminal defense attorney, it's important to have visibility in the community because potential clients don't expect to need an attorney until they require help. That's why the firm's strategy includes having a social media manager on staff to disseminate videos of his weekly media appearances, as well as his case victories, his inclusion on the Super Lawyers list and other accolades. In addition, he sees inclusion on the Super Lawyers directory as a crucial step to reach the right consumers.
It's like the old proverb, "if a tree falls in the woods, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?"
"Of course it doesn't make a sound if there's no one there to hear it," Varghese said. "No matter how good a lawyer I am, if people don't know it, it doesn't matter."
To learn more about Varghese and his successes, check out his profile on Super Lawyers.com, see his selection in the 2018 New York Metro Super Lawyers Magazine and take a look at his website.