Monday, January 11, 2016

Making a Murderer: not a indictment

Instead of bingeing on Football this weekend I binged on the Netflick series/documentary "Making a Murderer."  I didn't intend to spend the weekend with such a tunnel vision of entertainment options, but found I couldn't stop gawking at this story.
No spoiler alerts here. Since I binged alone with my iPad and earphones, I can't even talk about it here at the house till others catch up. The rest of the family is a little more temperate about how much television they watch at a time.  This doc has to be seen because it is a complicated story with so many twists, lies and deceptions that in the retelling some mind blowing details might be missed.  Simply stated, it is the story of small town justice so perverted it willingly and purposefully destroys  those who threaten the institutional power.  
I am a story teller. I know the power of film and the subliminal ability to shape any visual to the editorial philosophy you desire.  Good guys can be made to look better, Bad guys worse and facts distorted to be almost unrecognizable. I do not believe that "Making of a Murderer" is an unvarnished look at sterile facts.  We come away with the emotional tug that the director and film maker want us to feel. This is not life, this is art imitating life imitating a court room drama.  But even sifting through the filters placed on the editorial, there is enough to be very disturbing to me. 
I grew up in a small town, smaller than the one in this documentary. Watching it I immediately gave me a stomach ache at the memory of how small towns work or don't.  Small towns: where everyone knows everyone else, how they are interconnected and how "town opinion" can literally send you to jail for the rest of your life.  
The extensive coverage of several trials in this documentary also made my skin crawl. Unfortunately judicial misconduct and incompetence are not solely the dominion of small towns.  I have actually witnessed the same tactics first hand in a Van Nuys courtroom. Police, detectives, investigators and district attorneys  are not in the business of finding justice or discovering the truth. It is all about winning.  Getting a confession is the goal not discovering the truth.  They will lie, cheat, intimidate and coerce their way into getting the verdict they want.  It is easy to judge a place, "Based on this documentary, I am never going to Wisconsin ever again," when the stench you are smelling is coming from you own local courtroom. What happens to Steven Avery happens to poor people daily and country wide, there just are not film makers documenting those struggles. 
There are so many courtroom dramas on television and in the movies we think we know how the system operates, but what you see on film about courts is no more real than the space ships of Star Wars.  We all know that once a verdict is handed down, the lawyers have the right to APPEAL.  This is supposed to be the check and balance on a system run by imperfect humans who unknowingly and often times knowingly do not play by the rules. We think an appeal is a chance to have a third party look, objectively at a trial. In reality the appeal can be heard by the same Judge that handled  the original conviction.  Very few judges will admit there was something wrong at the trials they conducted and will not let the appeal move forward. That was the experience I had in watching my friend appeal a conviction in Van Nuys.  In the original trial which ended in a hung jury, and in the subsequent trial the judge had ruled so much in favor of the DA and crippled the defense with his rulings he just continued his hostile actions toward them in the appeal. 
I have never wanted to serve on a jury. So far I have come close but have never been seated.  Like dogs I believe lawyers instinctively know when there is someone unfriendly toward them in the area.  They will thank and dismiss me fairly quickly after we begin the interview.  That has always been just fine with me until "Making of a Murderer".  I realize now that I quickly get cut from juries because they know I see through their bull shit.  By not wanting to serve on a jury I am dancing to the very tune that these soulless bastards are playing. How can I call Bull Shit foul if I am not in the game? 
In a day when there is no confidence in congress, when there are Bozos running for President, and cops are shooting first and asking questions later, one would hope that our system of justice would function well enough to balance it all out.  Occasionally it does. But to really have some sort of influence on this Country, it has to do a much better job.  Maybe it starts with guys like me who should be serving on juries but don't.  
As you were,

1 comment:

P. Grecian said...

I'm not sure I could sit still that long.
Or keep from rolling my eyes.