Lawyers in the informal network of some 30 organizations that work to exonerate the falsely convicted are closely watching the Wisconsin case of Steven Avery to see what its broader fallout might be, says the New York Times. Two years ago, Avery emerged from prison after lawyers from the Wisconsin Innocence Project at the University of Wisconsin Law School, proved that he had spent 18 years in prison for a sexual assault he did not commit.
The case became Wisconsin’s most noted exoneration, leading to an “Avery task force” that drew up a package of law enforcement changes known as the Avery Bill, adopted by state lawmakers a few weeks ago. Avery spoke on panels about wrongful conviction. Now Avery, 43, has been charged in the death of Teresa Halbach, a 25-year-old photographer who vanished on Oct. 31 after being assigned to take pictures for a magazine at Avery’s Auto Salvage. Meanwhile, the legal changes to the way the police draw up eyewitness identification procedures, conduct interrogations, and hold onto DNA evidence are no longer called the Avery Bill. The legislation is very important and very sound for our justice system as a whole,” said Representative Mark Gundrum. “But this does detract a little bit. Obviously, we’re not talking about Steven Avery anymore, not highlighting his conviction.”