Mimesis Law
19 November 2019

Making A Murderer, A Response To Josh Kendrick

Jan. 11, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — “Making a Murderer” has the nation outraged over the criminal justice system’s treatment of Stephen Avery and Brendan Dassey. The ten hour documentary led my Fault Lines colleague Josh Kendrick to hope the next time a viewer of the show steps into a jury box they will hold the government more accountable to the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard required to convict.  I don’t hold that hope, because pop culture and history keep reminding me the only change affected by these stories is an increase in the bank accounts and celebrity of those who take up a convicted person’s cause.  Just ask Adnan Syed.

Oh, excuse me. The name doesn’t strike a chord?  Allow me to help.  Adnan Syed was a high school student convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, in 2000 based on numerous reports from other students, inconsistencies in his statements to police, bad evidence later recanted, and more.  Syed is currently serving a life sentence for allegedly killing Lee, and no one would even remember his name unless an intrepid NPR reporter named Sarah Koenig decided to take up Syed’s cause and launch a podcast called “Serial.”

“Serial’ season one became a hit in the eyes of the public who were finally beginning to see just how crazy the complex quagmire the criminal justice system really is. It hit over 80 million downloads, which is a insane number for a podcast devoted to an old criminal case.  It got people thinking about what happens when someone is convicted by a jury to spend life in prison. So much attention was focused on Adnan Syed’s case, thanks to Sarah Koenig, that a judge in Baltimore allowed Syed’s attorneys to present new evidence in his case.

Despite Sarah Koenig’s best investigative work, the end of “Serial” reached critical mass in Season One with the finale, “What We Know.”  In that episode, Koenig reaches the arching conclusion of…we still don’t know what happened, and we don’t know a way to fix the broken justice system that sent a teenager to life plus thirty.

All we’re left with is, Jay knew where the car was. That’s it. That all by itself, that is not a story. It’s a beginning but it’s not a story. It’s not enough, to me, to send anyone to prison for life, never mind a seventeen-year-old kid. Because you, me, the State of Maryland, based on the information we have before us, I don’t believe any of us can say what really happened to Hae. As a juror I vote to acquit Adnan Syed. I have to acquit. Even if in my heart of hearts I think Adnan killed Hae, I still have to acquit. That’s what the law requires of jurors. But I’m not a juror, so just as a human being walking down the street next week, what do I think? If you ask me to swear that Adnan Syed is innocent, I couldn’t do it. I nurse doubt. I don’t like that I do, but I do.

Koenig would go on to be recognized as one of the most influential people of 2015 by TIME, and one of the “Forward 50” of 2015. She’s back in the public’s eye this year with “Serial” Season 2.

Adnan Syed still sits in prison.

Which leads us to the present day story of Stephen Avery and Brendan Dassey.  The similarities to “Making a Murderer” and “Serial” Season One are striking.  A murder happened.  There are questionable circumstances surrounding the arrest and conviction of the parties charged with the offense.  There’s a clear thread of law enforcement and prosecutors deciding to convict before a defendant ever hit a court of law.  Bad evidence is used, and questionable tactics are employed by prosecutors.  There’s an element of ineffective assistance of counsel.  And creators Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi have reached the same conclusions Koenig did with Syed.

“What I learned from making this series is the humility to accept that I don’t know, and I may never know,” Demos told The Daily Beast over the holiday break that she and Ricciardi properly hijacked, filling newsfeeds and social media streams with the shocked, angry, and outraged reactions of viewers making their way through Making a Murderer.

“That was one of the things we learned doing this: Just because you have questions doesn’t mean that you’re going to get an answer,” she said. “If you’re so committed to finding the truth and finding the answer, it’s very hard to be comfortable with ambiguity and you’ll often settle, just for some finality.”

Demos and Ricciardi got a Today show interview and a nice bump in their bank accounts.  A juror from the original trial has since come forward under conditions of anonymity saying they now believe Avery was framed and he should get a new trial.  The public has the flaws of our justice system in their eyes, exposed over ten hours available for binge watching.

And then there’s the petition, which proves “Serial,” “Making a Murderer,” and anything following it will never effect meaningful change.

Enough people got angry about “Making a Murderer” to sign a petition asking President Obama pardon Stephen Avery and Brendan Dassey because

Based on the evidence in the Netflix documentary series “Making a Murderer”, the justice system embarrassingly failed both men, completely ruining their entire lives.

There is clear evidence that the Manitowoc County sheriff’s department used improper methods to convict both Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey.

This is a black mark on the justice system as a whole, and should be recognized as such, while also giving these men the ability to live as normal a life as possible.

The petition got over 100,000 signatures in the thirty-day time frame required, which prompted the White House staffers who work on the website to explain the President’s clemency power only works for Federal cases.

Since Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey are both state prisoners, the President cannot pardon them. A pardon in this case would need to be issued at the state level by the appropriate authorities.

“Serial” caused a kerfuffle amongst my Fault Lines colleagues Ken Womble and Scott Greenfield.  Ken opined that it actually got people thinking about the justice system and its flaws, and that was a good thing.  Scott took a different tack.

My view was that information, without understanding and context, was overrated. People would believe they understood the system, but they would be wrong. Worse, they would believe so strongly that they couldn’t be told otherwise.  They would be both ignorant and certain, a toxic combination.

And that petition, created with good intent, puts “Making a Murderer” in the same camp as “Serial,” and makes me respectfully dissent with Josh Kendrick on the impact “Making a Murderer” will have. People will see and hear the stories of Adnan Syed, Stephen Avery, Brendan Dassey, and more in the days to come.  Because these stories are broadcast by well meaning journalists and documentarians, public outrage erupts and people want to do something about it.  But that information, without understanding and context, won’t help create anything but more public outrage and more prestige for those who bring these stories to light.

Meanwhile, Adnan Syed, Stephen Avery, and Brendan Dassey sit in prison.

 

There’s no word on whether Netflix has optioned “Making a Murderer: Season 2.”

27 Comments on this post.

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  • NS
    11 January 2016 at 9:52 am - Reply

    Mr. Seaton has vastly overstated the quality of the prosecution’s case in Maryland v. Adnan Syed. He seems to believe that there were hordes of students who suspected that Syed committed the murder and came forward with “numerous reports.” Actually, there were none, and that statement is a fiction. Mutual friends of both the victim and the defendant reported no tension, no threats, no anger, and no problems whatsoever between the two after the breakup. The victim’s diary fully corroborates this, reflecting her continuing feelings of friendly affection for Syed through its final diary entries before she disappeared. The state failed to produce any student witnesses at trial to testify about Syed’s post-breakup behavior or attitude suggesting that he held any ill will toward her.

    Mr. Seaton also claims inconsistencies in Syed’s statements to police. This too is a complete fiction. The state did not even bother presenting evidence of any inconsistent statements by Syed at trial. The state’s star witness, a drug dealer named Jay Wilds, has offered 7 wildly inconsistent versions of what occurred. Perhaps Mr. Seaton has confused Syed for Wilds.

    The state’s case against Syed was pitiful enough that the prosecutor decided to resort to telling the jury, in his opening statement, that Syed was “a Muslim” and Pakistani (he’s American by the way, born in Baltimore), with no objection from the defense. Two of the jurors have openly stated in recent interviews that they believe that people from Syed’s “Arab culture” (he’s not an Arab by the way) have medieval views toward women, confirming that the proescutor’s inappropriate opening statement worked. Syed was not convicted on the basis of facts. He was literally convicted on the basis of his racial origin and religion.

    • shg
      11 January 2016 at 10:01 am - Reply

      That’s a very detailed assertion of fact, but unfortunately, you use a pseudonym and offer no explanation for the basis of your assertions. This isn’t to say you’re right or wrong, but that without knowing who you are or what your claims are based on, your assertions are worthless. Maybe you have intimate, personal knowledge of the case. If so, then that would be important to know so that a reader can understand the basis for your assertions. Or perhaps you have no knowledge at all. That would be worth knowing as well.

      So there isn’t much point to writing lengthy assertions of fact without including the information needed to determine whether you know what you’re talking about or you’re just making noise.

    • CLS
      11 January 2016 at 10:39 am - Reply

      “NS”

      You are extremely hung up on Adnan Syed’s case, and quite eager to tell me so in a lengthy invective that veers so far off the topic of this post I don’t know where to begin.

      Since my mention of Maryland v. Syed ignited your passions enough to tell me I committed the egregious sin of being Wrong On The Internet, allow me to do the hard work for you and explain the thrust of this piece.

      “Serial” did nothing to help Adnan Syed, made the public dumber because it didn’t provide the appropriate information with understanding and context. At best, new evidence will be heard in his case. It DID make Sarah Koenig a national celebrity and give Ms. Koenig a second season to discuss a different cause.

      The same holds true with “Making a Murderer.” It has made Demos and Ricciardi richer for their efforts, given the pair celebrity appearances, and added public outrage without doing a damn thing to help the subjects of public outrage in this documentary. In fact, the lack of context and understanding with this information led approximately 125,000 people to sign a petition that did absolutely nothing.

      More of these outrage documentaries will come. They will get attention. They will accomplish nothing other than fanning the flames of outrage.

      Thanks for stopping by. In the future, when you visit Fault Lines, you might want to read that to which you reply before launching on a campaign to tell said writer he or she is Wrong On The Internet.

      Best,
      –CLS

  • NS
    11 January 2016 at 11:27 am - Reply

    Forgive me for any offense caused by using a pseudonym. I didn’t see a comment policy against this and you are free to delete my commentary if you don’t want to see it. I’m a lawyer who simply took a deep observer interest in the case, as I have with other such cases. Unlike you, I simply prefer to use a pseudonym. If that detracts from my credibility, that’s fine. And if you don’t want to hear further from me, just say so and this will be my last comment. It’s your blog.

    I happen to agree with you on most of your points. The media, including the new media formats we’ve seen created in recent years (podcasts), does exactly what you accuse it of doing in my opinion. In Avery’s case, it presented a one-sided narrative replete with an ominous musical score and emotional button-pushers designed to rile up the audience. There is legitimate criticism of Serial’s handling of Syed too.

    Still, it’s not accurate to say fact that these stories did “nothing” to help the defendants. In Serial 1, Sarah Koenig tracked down and interviewed, in a recorded statement, a critical alibi witness. The defense had failed in every effort to get her to talk for the previous 14 years, up to and including the hiring of a defense investigator knocking on her door that the witness ignored. Koenig was able to get through, and once this witness learned the actual context of why the defense had tried to contact her, she has now signed an affidavit expressing her frustration that the state had encouraged her to ignore defense interview requests. That affidavit resulted in the Maryland appellate court remanding to consider re-opening the case.

    I basically agree with your critique of how the media and society are examining these cases. But the facts are that such scrutiny can and does result in evidence that sheds light on hand-picked cases that may or may not be relevant. Such scrutiny can result in improvements in our justice system, which is after all why our court system is as transparent as it is. What cost those occasional improvements come with is a legitimate question.

    • shg
      11 January 2016 at 12:37 pm - Reply

      First, you might want to use the reply button, since this is a reply, rather than start a new thread. Second, you haven’t caused any offense, and why you would think so is bizarre. What you have done is proffered baseless facts. You can be as pseudonymous as you want to be, but you can’t simultaneously be pseudonymous and expect anyone to take your assertions of fast seriously.

      Writing, “I’m an attorney, so people should take me seriously and believe whatever facts I provide, even though I prefer to remain anonymous” doesn’t fly on the internet. Anybody can claim to be a lawyer. They sell keyboards to anyone, sane or not, intelligent or not, honest or not. You make your choice of how to comment, but live with the consequences.

  • UE
    11 January 2016 at 11:52 am - Reply

    This post sounds like it was written by a legal hipster at the coffee shop outside of the courthouse. “The guy from Serial and the guy from Making a Murderer are still in jail while the people who made the documentaries are getting rich – wahh wahhh wahh.”

    As if bringing to light actual cases which may cause the public at large to doubt what they are force-fed from the prosecution [in cases in which these people will serve as the jurors] does not help in any way at all to introduce a modicum of skepticism in what they are told by prosecutors. The majority of Dateline/48 Hours/First 48 episodes serve to support the idea that the prosecution generally gets it right and should be believed, but these two documentaries (whether audio or video) which became extremely popular and caused a great number of people to be skeptical of what the prosecutors said are the issue because the people who reported them are getting rich and/or famous?

    “They filed a federal petition when he was a state prisoner, so clearly the documentary has zero impact – blah blah blah.” Take the dimes out of your penny loafers and get over yourself. Not every person who files a petition on change.org has a legal degree and knows exactly how the entirety of the system works. To say that this is evidence of the documentaries lacking impact is short-sighted.

    “Silly general public getting passionate about a perceived injustice – can’t they see that its just the documentary-makers getting rich and famous.” I bet you only liked The Beatles before they were famous and “sold out.”

    • CLS
      11 January 2016 at 6:30 pm - Reply

      “UE”:

      Wow. This is a first for me. Getting called a hipster, I mean. And a “Legal Hipster” at that? I was unaware such a creature existed.
      Grant you, I do possess certain trappings of various genres of “hipster” (I own TWO “Bullet Club” T-Shirts and a pair of TOMS) and I do certain “hipster” things on occasion (like shop at Whole Foods), but being an actual “Legal Hipster?”

      Damn. I feel like a special unicorn. Wonder if I can get a badge next to my Fault Lines bio for that.

      Your screed against my take on these proceedings brings to mind something Josh said in his original post, and I reprint it here for consideration.

      “Most people simply don’t have the guts required to make our criminal justice system something more than a giant grinder for poor people with terrible fortune. In your living room it’s no problem directing outrage at the little screen in the corner. On Facebook and Twitter, it’s pretty easy to post your disappointment at the system.

      It’s a little harder to sit in a courtroom and tell the great and powerful government it is wrong. Looking at a crying victim and sending them away without a pound of flesh is difficult. Normal people don’t want to risk sending a criminal back on the streets, even while doubting he is actually a criminal.”

      And that’s where I see “Making a Murderer” and “Serial” falling apart as agents of change. You are here telling me that I’m Wrong On The Internet, and that THIS will be the time where the public actually takes notice and holds those damn State agents we’ve been telling you lie on the stand all the time, and that THIS will be the time they remember all the bullshit that happened to Stephen Avery and Adnan Syed and THIS will be the time the jurors actually remember what “beyond a reasonable doubt” means, and THIS will be the time the system actually works the way it’s supposed to.

      I’m sitting here telling you that once you strip that veil of anonymity and you’re sitting in a jury box, and you’re looking at that crying victim, and you see that perp sitting in handcuffs and a jumpsuit, you might not see Stephen Avery. You might not see Adnan Syed. You might just be inclined to send the bastard home and let that victim get a little recompense, because it’s real and not in a ten hour binge fest for you to enjoy in the comforts of your own digital space.

      And the petition? Yes, that’s the problem, and it’s an agent of alleged “change” that doesn’t help one damn bit. People got online because they were mad, thought because they’ve heard “Presidential Pardon,” and forced the White House to explain to 125,000 well meaning people that the President can’t do a damn thing. Scott Walker has a similar petition in front of him, and I don’t think that’s going to go well either since he really doesn’t care. “Not every person who files a petition on change.org has a legal degree and knows how the entirety of the system works.” People with legal degrees don’t file petitions on a site that doesn’t promise to do one goddamn thing for a reason. We’re busting our asses trying to help real people.

      Josh Kendrick and Ken Womble have hope that “Serial” and “Making a Murderer” will be mechanisms of change. Scott Greenfield and I don’t. Him from experience. Me? It’s because I’m just a dour son of a bitch who’s seen too many defendants get fucked over to think pop culture will make a difference.

      And Sarah Koenig, Moira Demos, and Laura Ricciardi? Hell, I’m glad they made money. I’m a cold hearted capitalist at heart, and in a perfect world, all three would make bank and Syed, Dassey, and Avery would be free men.

      But it’s not perfect. It’s a messy world, and the criminal justice system is messy. The best we can hope to do here is make people a little better informed.

      And I own no penny loafers.

      Best,
      –CLS

  • Cornflake S. Pecially
    11 January 2016 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    Still waiting on the meaning and context…

    So you and others, in the know, throw up your hands and shrug this circus off as being too fractured to even act as a mid second set introduction?

    I guess you, and others in the know, are already far too preoccupied with the known weight the rusted cables slithering through the pulleys of justice  are already carrying?

    Pull yourselves together.

    Oppertunity knocks! Who gives a shit anout the auxiliary circus?

    Are you, and too many of your guilded peers, attempting to point out that it is a waste of time to dust of fractured pieces of a thousand broken lenses, or are you simply pointing out that the “light” devoid of context and meaning just can’t be understood? Bullshit!!!

    “Meanwhile, Adnan Syed, Stephen Avery, and Brendan Dassey sit in prison.” And just a few others perhaps…

    Still waiting on that context and meaning which doesn’t have a dammed thing to do about innocence.

    Yeah its complicated, and it depends…

    You and countless other criminsl justice writers have been pointing that out for years.

    Why not pick up a few of the fractured pieces, while the herds curiousities are aroused, and put them to constructive use?

    Everything else is just bitching and moaning with a heavy sigh.

    Get over it! It doesn’t pay or play like “that”, never has never will.

    • Scott Jacobs
      11 January 2016 at 3:31 pm - Reply

      “Who gives a shit anout the auxiliary circus?”

      The people who give a shit about the process. If nothing useful happens besides making some bint famous off the story of a guy who got shafted, then why pretend otherwise? The guy still rots in a cell he likely doesn’t deserve to be in. Nothing changed…

      Except that now people have heard a bunch of stuff without context, and without any actual understanding of the subject, and so now are convinced they “know something” when in fact they are as clueless as they were before hand, BUT NOW they are also convinced that they are right and so are actually harder to teach.

      And you’re HAPPY about this?

      Do you work for a DA or something?

      • Cornflake S. Pecially
        11 January 2016 at 4:01 pm - Reply

        See: Why not pick up a few of the fractured pieces, while the herds curiosities are aroused, and put them to constructive use?

        And:Still waiting on the meaning and context…

        P.S. I should be a DA but I still am waiting for someone to write a book about grand juries.

        • Scott Jacobs
          11 January 2016 at 4:04 pm - Reply

          Because the herd isn’t curious, it now has concrete beliefs you will be unable to change because “they heard this thing, so they know.”

          • Cornflake S. Pecially
            11 January 2016 at 4:20 pm -

            Actually I was hoping someone could take a crack at educating the herds about the slaughter house seeing as how all the sheep are all excited and pontificating about their assumptions which, as you note, seem to have become “certainties”.

            I put it this way in an earlier comment under another post that Fault Lines put up on this subject material.

            Stick your hand down the throat of this documentary and rip it’s heart and lungs out. Take the wind pipe too and dry it around a quill pen.

            Then stomp on its heart and lungs and take a good long sniff. There is some breath in there that is worth frothing about. Don’t let all the blood and guts nor guilt or innocence cloud this living autopsy of the court.

    • CLS
      11 January 2016 at 6:37 pm - Reply

      “Cornflake”:

      First off, can I call you Corny? Cornflake is a bit long, and Corny reminds me of one of my favorite people in the world, the legendary pro wrestling manager James E. Cornette.

      So Corny it is then? Cool. Thanks!

      As far as the “context and meaning” which you’re looking for, and the fractured pieces of “Making a Murderer” and “Serial” that you see exposed to the “herd’s” public eyes, that’s the entire purpose of Fault Lines. To take the bullshit away and show you what the truth is. To educate and enlighten. That piece you reference in a comment on this thread from Noel is quite poignant in the wait over jury deliberations, and I’m sure there’s days worth of material to come on “Making a Murderer.”

      One element of Fault Lines you will not see is confirmation bias. We don’t go for that shit here. If you doubt, please see the fights between Scott Greenfield and Greg Prickett over the Tamir Rice murder. Josh Kendrick has his view on “Making A Murderer”, Ken Womble has his view on “Serial”, and I have mine on both. This space exists, at least according to those in charge, to show the public you think we’re NOT trying to educate to do just that. To show them every side of the argument they need to see. To dust off those broken pieces and shine lights that the system which people have been fed is very ugly and needs change.

      Thanks for coming by. And keep reading.

      Best,
      –CLS

      • shg
        11 January 2016 at 7:09 pm - Reply

        Be nice to “Corney,” Chris. He’s my uncle’s third cousin’s mailman, who was unfortunately dropped on his head by the mall Santa when he was a mere teen following a tragic kiln explosion at the “We Be Crafts” boutique. He’s never been the same since, we’re all kinda worried that he going to postal if anyone pisses him off. And whatever you do, do NOT mention the tin foil hat. Just sayin’.

        • CLS
          11 January 2016 at 7:15 pm - Reply

          SHG:

          Duly noted. And I mean the Corny in a good way. Dude was nice to me when my son was in the NICU.
          I still listen to the old bastard’s podcasts and laugh on a regular basis.
          If I ever call a person “Corny” and reference Jim Cornette it’s out of respect and in a good way.

          Best,
          –CLS

      • Cornflake S. Pecially
        11 January 2016 at 7:11 pm - Reply

        Thanks CLS.

        Will do, even if you guys won’t let me sleep with my stuffed confirmation bias bear, make me read stuff, and state calling me Corny.

        But it’s gonna be all your fault if I start having nightmares again.

        P.S. I wouldn’t overestimate who’s in charge by the way. Something tells me that those who are “in charge” aren’t going to get too bent out of shape if the Fault Lines writers go about paying particular interest to “certain stations” that may come up from time to time as long as their curiosity doesn’t distort the overall development of humankind, in this here Montessori-ish classroom they have assembled to save the world from itself and everyone in it who is mucking up the works and preventing us from having nice things.

        • CLS
          11 January 2016 at 7:17 pm - Reply

          Cornflake:

          I want you to know first off that if I refer to you as “Corny” it’s out of respect for a man in whom I hold the highest regard, who speaks his mind, and damned the rest of the world’s opinion otherwise.

          Second, I get where you’re coming from. I hope you see what I’m trying to do with this particular subject as well.

          Please keep coming back, keep commenting, and keep thinking and reading.

          Best,
          –CLS

          • Cornflake S. Pecially
            11 January 2016 at 8:21 pm -

            Will do Mr. Seaton, will do.

            You and your fellow Fault Lines writers make for a formidable ensemble that will hopefully continue striving to hit the notes while bringing it all home in the months and years to come.

            P.S. Thanks for the kind words regarding my moniker. You can roll with whatever floats your boat. Relax, believe it or not, even in the Neighborhood of Make Believe, the characters can take a joke or a poke in the ribs even if pro-wrestlers can’t ;). Anyway, please don’t be finding it all necessary to go about explaining all your moniker confirmation bias’s, it just mucks up all the fun when searching for the moral of the story. So, don’t worry about it. Everyone has been calling me Corney since the kiln explosion burned down my factory anyway. But hey, they helped me rebuild my factory to carry on with my life’s work…

            P.S.S. And with all sincerity, I will endeavor to make you sure you don’t regret the first two sentiments of your last sentence above. Can’t make any promises about that, but I can assure I will keep reading and thinking even if the Mall Santa fucked me up a little bit in the thinking department, I can still make some pretty wicked rocking chairs.

  • Eva
    11 January 2016 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    Netflix if you are out there reading my small plea please take a close look at this law blog, you would have plenty to make a second, third, fourth season for your “Making a Murder”—-

    • Eva
      11 January 2016 at 5:42 pm - Reply

      Let me clarify,
      When I mention “Netflix” I mean anyone remotely associated to this particular company. (Even someone who know somebody who know somebody, and on down the line….
      Best—
      Eva

    • CLS
      11 January 2016 at 6:38 pm - Reply

      Eva:

      Said that for a good bit now. Thanks for reading.

      Best,
      –CLS

  • Kevin Walsh
    11 January 2016 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    I found both Serial and MAM to be fascinating pieces of work. Taking a step back, the editorial bias in both is urging the listener/viewer to sympathise with the accused in both instances. I have no special insight and therefore cannot opine on the guilt or otherwise of the accused. As a common lawyer (commercial not criminal), I am however fascinated by the arcane and disturbing procedural rules and their interpretation by the judiciary (and “abuse” by prosecutors?). It seems to me, the rights of the accused have been incalculably eroded and therefore call into question whether their lauded constitutional protection is still real or illusory. this deserves a wider discussion and debate within society. With the ever-increasing powers being given to the authorities (homeland security etc), it behove us to be critical and not simply blindly accept what we are told are “necessary” measures, but which may in fact be disproportionate.

    • CLS
      11 January 2016 at 6:41 pm - Reply

      Kevin:

      Thanks for reading.

      You’re getting a whiff of what we’ve been saying for some time at Fault Lines now.

      With each case, and each post, we’re asking for more discussion and debate.

      I hope people will be critical and not simply “blindly accept what we are told are “necessary” measures,” but as I stated above, I am a dour son of a bitch who’s seen one too many defendants get fucked over and don’t hold much hope the bias towards the accused in “Serial” and MAM will change much.

      Hopefully more people will come to Fault Lines, and we can help engage the public with informed discussion that doesn’t make people stupid.

      Please keep coming back, and I hope you like what you see here.

      Best,
      –CLS

      • Kevin Walsh
        12 January 2016 at 7:11 am - Reply

        Thanks Mr Seaton. These programs (serial, MAM) serve a very useful purpose in that they promote awareness of how unfair and “unfit for purpose” the current criminal justice system is. The current “outrage” should be tapped – but not simply to debate and discuss or to propose and support “one-off” petitions for clemency, pardon, retrial etc; rather it needs to be oriented towards supporting a campaign for a more profound review of the whole system, one that can produce demonstrably fair processes on a more consistent basis. There is a real sense that the current system is “out of whack” and loaded against defendants, particularly the least-advantaged ones. Of course, there will always be injustices – it’s a question of reducing the number! “Pie in the sky”? We can but hope!

  • Brent W
    12 January 2016 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    CLS,

    I understand your and Scott’s complaint about the double whammy of a Serial listener or MAM watcher being wrong but now believing they are knowledgeable, but that should also be weighed against people who have used those programs as a springboard to become more informed.

    I became a daily reader of blawgs like Scott’s and Fault Lines (among others) as a direct result of my interest in Serial, and while I wouldn’t dare to try and post an informative comment on Scott’s blog I think I’m a lot more knowledgeable now than I was before, and it colors my thoughts and conversations about other current hot button topics related to crime. I can’t be the only one, and I wonder if Scott’s blog is reaching a wider audience than it was prior to Serial’s airing.

    • shg
      12 January 2016 at 7:22 pm - Reply

      SJ reaches a very wide audience, so it would be difficult to say whether anyone, like you, has come because their interest was stoked by Serial or MAM. That said, no, there has been no indication that these shows have had any significant impact, either at FL or SJ.

  • Dean Strang Proved Me Wrong
    28 January 2016 at 10:05 am - Reply

    […] I wrote on the Netflix docudrama, “Making a Murderer,” I took the stance nothing good would come of it. Today I proudly eat my slice of humble pie.  Dean Strang, Stephen Avery’s co-counsel in the […]