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Convicting Avery: The Bizarre Laws and Broken System behind Making a Murderer Paperback – April 4, 2017
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
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“Convicting Avery is a smart, irreverent analysis of the Avery and Dassey cases from Making a Murderer. It’s a fascinating and, at times, deeply disturbing examination of the problems that plague our criminal justice system.”
—Lawrence White, PhD, false confession expert in Making a Murderer, and professor of psychology at Beloit College
“Cicchini makes his case clearly… Will engage fans of the series and readers who wonder if prosecutors really do cut corners in their campaigns against serious criminals.”
“Even readers unfamiliar with the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer will be intrigued by Cicchini’s insights into the inequities of the criminal justice…. Cicchini convincingly demonstrates that the Kafkaesque criminal justice in Avery’s case was not an anomaly, and his work is an accessible entree into the debate over how defendants’ rights should be protected.”
"A revealing and fascinating read that will interest readers of true crime, criminal law, or American legal procedures… regardless of your position on Steven Avery's guilt or innocence, the content of this book raises important concerns about a clearly broken legal system.”
—New York Journal of Books
“Convicting Avery is that rare book that is superbly written by an expert in criminal law, reads like a thriller, and offers much that would surprise even seasoned lawyers. I read it in one sitting.”
—Matthew Flynn, commercial litigation partner of Quarles and Brady, former chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and author of Pryme Knumber
“Convicting Avery is disturbing. And this is all the more reason why it is a must-read. Criminal defense lawyer Michael D. Cicchini informs, illuminates, and impels us to take a hard, clear-sighted look at our broken criminal justice system and what it means to our own threatened presumption of innocence.... Convicting Avery is highly readable and well researched, and leavened with common sense and cutting wit. It’s a galvanizing book—expertly and persuasively written. Highly recommended.”
—Mauricio “Mo” Hernandez, attorney
About the Author
Michael D. Cicchini, JD, is a criminal defense attorney in Kenosha, Wisconsin; the author of Tried and Convicted: How Police, Prosecutors, and Judges Destroy Our Constitutional Rights; and a coauthor of But They Didn't Read Me My Rights! Myths, Oddities, and Lies about Our Legal System (with Amy Kushner, Ph.D.). He is also a columnist at the Wisconsin Law Journal and a blogger at The Legal Watchdog, and has published articles in several law reviews, including the Fordham Law Review and Northwestern University's Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology.
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Reforming the system is only a temporary solution since the powers that be quickly modify the changes to keep it as is.
I really enjoyed the way he presented the information. Very easy to read .
We have had experience with the "justice" system and now I know why justice can't be expected, or even hoped for.
Cicchini looks at the kind of “line-ups” that were allowed, leading a witness to identify the man that prosecution wanted identified. He goes on to cite insufficiencies in the reading of the Miranda Rights. He cites how Wisconsin laws subvert the 4th Amendment of the Constitution by allowing repeated, extensive search-and-seizures that can really amount to unlimited fishing expeditions onto a suspect's premises. He cites clear experimental examples of how the wording and inflection a judge uses when making his/her charge to the jury can profoundly influence that jury's verdict. In short, Cicchini demonstrates how many State rules and allowed processes can funnel a suspect into an appearance of guilt from the start.
And yet, as much sympathy as this book might engender for the unfairness that Avery has had to battle – a bit of contrariness affected me as I read along. I couldn't help but feel that some countervailing arguments might exist that would tend to suggest Avery's guilt after all.
For example, one of the prime pieces of evidence that this book does review, a piece of evidence that was also a centerpiece in “The Making of a Murderer” movie – involved a needle mark found in the stopper of a vial of blood that was taken from Avery in connection with his early rape charge. Avery supporters have cited that mark as being evidence of tampering. They surmised that law enforcement officials, out to get Avery, went back to that old stored vial, surreptitiously withdrew some blood from it by inserting a hypodermic needle through the stopper, and then planted that blood where it was found in the car of Avery's presumed later murder victim – clearly implicating Avery in that second crime.
But coincidentally, I was able to consult an acquaintance of mine on this point. She used to be a technician in a hospital hematology lab. She said that blood samples came to her lab in small vials with rubber-like stoppers. All these samples were then processed through a machine, six at a time, in which a needle was inserted in the stopper of EACH vial as blood was withdrawn for the machine to analyze. The stoppers were designed to self-seal after having been punctured. However, sometimes, this self-sealing did not work perfectly, and months and years later one could still see the needle-mark impression left in the material of the stopper.
Just as there exists this potential refutation of Avery's supporters on this evidentiary point, I felt there might be some countervailing arguments to the procedural points made in this book. But in order to be convincing, such arguments should come from an unbiased source, not from anyone involved in Avery's prosecution. I don't think such a book yet exists – and perhaps none can ever be marshaled.
Meanwhile, “Convicting Avery” stands as an excellent demonstration of how people might be either falsely accused or accused on the basis of false evidence and faulty procedure. This is a fairly short book, easy to read in its lucidity. But it carries extensive implications for how law and procedure need to be reformed, not only in Wisconsin, but in many jurisdictions.
If a crime is committed, do the police actually look for who did the evil deed or do they go after whoever the community would feel most comfortable handing over to be the bad guy no matter what? Just to wrap up the case.
I grew up in the rural outskirts of a small town. There were a few of poorer families who lived off the beaten track from the rest of the families and had a reputation as being strange so most people avoided them. Nobody really knew them that well and there were always strange rumors and about everyone in those families even though they kept to themselves, never really bothering anybody. Sometimes some of the teenage boys got into a little trouble speeding, knocking down a country home mailbox or two, getting a little drunk, or soaping windows on Halloween and were pegged bad eggs. But if something big happened, it must have been one of them. Especially if they were in the junk or dealt with old vehicles in one way or another. So while watching the documentary and reading this book, I could see how this could have happened so easily to Avery or any member of one of the similar families in the area I grew up in.
And I could see how this could happen to just about anybody who doesn't fit their community ideal of proper normal. Even when I lived in the city, if you lived on the wrong street or the wrong section of the City, that alone could make you guiltier than living even just one more block away in any direction even if you were the most angelic person in the world.
This book still has me as perplexed about how well the phrase "beyond a reasonable doubt" is even considered when jurors are voting on a defendant's verdict. Do juror's actually vote "not guilty" when they feel the defendant is probably guilty but not 100% certain? Or vote one way or another because of pressure from other jurors or to just wrap the whole thing up to get back home if sequestered or back to their regular lives away from the court and jury rooms?
I don't know about you but, I often wonder how I would feel if I were in that situation of being innocent but charged with a serious crime. Then have to serve time in prison.
Definitely a perplexing, complex, and fascinating case to read about.