Bowe Bergdahl, who was today arraigned on desertion and misbehavior charges, manages
to be more than merely a discredited hero, but a subject whose story is
worthy of airing in all its complexity. It's an attitude that a defense
attorney is used to adopting, but the public seems to be catching up too.
Documentary makers in the
that his story deserved to be heard, even while admitting they had eventually
abandoned their neutrality when a handwritten note pointed to his guilt (see my
post, from earlier this year). Netflix’s "Making a Murderer"
is the latest in this batch of series that asks us to look at complex
cases from the accused’s perspective, and asks the question, as
puts it: "If the police really want you to go to jail, even if you
haven’t committed a crime, is there anything you can do to stop
them?" The subject of "Making a Murderer", Steven Avery
is a man who appears to us in two guises: first as an innocent man, whose
name was cleared of sexual assault in 2003 by DNA evidence after serving
18 years; second, as a convicted murderer who is now serving a life sentence
for a crime he says he was framed for. Mr. Avery claims he was framed
because of a $36 million dollar lawsuit against county officials over
his previous conviction. His exoneration also became closely associated with the
Wisconsin Innocence Project, a local version of the National nonprofit that Sarah Koenig consulted
for the original Serial series. As a former prosecutor and now a defense
attorney, it's particularly interesting to see how committed journalists
can persuade the public to take an interest in the untold stories of those
who are accused of serious crimes.