Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who was wrongfully convicted of sexual assault in 1985, and later convicted of murder in 2007, has gained national attention from the Netflix series "Making a Murderer" that details the events of the investigations and subsequent trial. The series calls into question the nature of the criminal justice system and the ethics behind investigations and prosecution. Within the series, one particular apparent failing is the activity and disposition of the prosecutor as it is shown in the documentary.
The position of prosecutor is a one held by those who supposedly have a commitment to justice and truth. In Steven Avery's case, we see a prosecutor who appears to acts in a fashion that seems less concerned with truth, and more so with getting the conviction. Though there are a number of complaints from sources outside of the documentary as to its bias towards the defendant, the documentary highlights some interesting points. The prosecutor in the case, Ken Kratz, operates with such a distaste for the defendant that it can be assumed that his case may have been fueled not by a search for truth and justice, but instead a desire for a conviction. Prior to the trial proceedings, Kratz hosts a press conference that sensationalizes the allegations against Avery and co-defendant Brendan Dassey to the extent of graphic and gruesome detail. Several of his statements seem to operate on encouraging the jury's prejudices towards Steven Avery. Some may argue that this behavior fringes on potential prosecutorial misconduct.
The average prosecutor is an individual that is dedicated to justice, truth, and professionalism. It is rare to find a prosecutor who does not strive to uphold those values. But what happens when a prosecutor engages in misconduct? The Columbian reports that 30 of 540 cases in Washington state that had been dismissed or reversed were caused by prosecutor misconduct. With the current social climate focusing on failings in the criminal justice system, it may be time to focus on possible misconduct from prosecutors. The report goes on to show that roughly 46% of wrongful convictions are the result of prosecutorial misconduct. Prosecutorial misconduct can come in many forms:
- Failure to Provide Exonerating Evidence During Discovery
- Courtroom Misconduct
- Presenting False or Misleading Evidence
- Making Use of Unreliable or Untruthful Witnesses
Prosecutorial misconduct may be difficult to prove while a trial is going on, however it can be found during the appellate process. If you believe that a prosecutor is acting maliciously, it may require your attorney to file a motion for a new prosecutor or a new trial altogether. Predatory practices from a prosecutor can lead to wrongful or overly sever convictions.
If you or a loved one is currently facing criminal charges, contact criminal defense attorney Steve Karimi today.