Making a Murderer: Ottawa lawyers dissect Netflix series on podcast

An Ottawa lawyer is using his weekly podcast to examine the legal aspects of the popular Netflix series Making a Murderer.

Weekly episodes examine legal aspects of popular true crime documentary

The true crime series Making a Murderer tells the story of Steven Avery, a wrongly-convicted Wisconsin man who spent 18 years in prison only to be charged with another serious crime after his release. Here Avery is seen being escorted from the Manitowoc County Courthouse on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2005. (Morry Gash/Associated Press)

Confess. We know you did it.

You've been spending way too much time binge-watching the latest Netflix sensation Making a Murderer. 

The riveting, stranger-than-fiction documentary series tells the story of unlucky Wisconsin man Steven Avery, who spent 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit only to discover that was just the beginning of his troubles with the justice system. 

Now Ottawa criminal defence lawyer Michael Spratt is using his weekly podcast The Docket to delve into the legal issues that surround the show. Spratt squares off with his partner Emilie Taman, a lawyer with substantial experience as a prosecutor.

I've been binge-watching Making a Murderer and been captivated by it.- Michael Spratt

"I've been binge-watching Making a Murderer and been captivated by it, I thought there's no better way to talk to the public about the differences between the Canadian and American system, and talk about access to justice and criminal justice specifically," said Spratt.

Making a Murderer has all the essential ingredients of addictive viewing — a grisly crime, heart-thumping suspense and a seemingly endless number of plot twists and cliffhangers. At the same time, the series presents a meticulous critique of the abuses of police and prosecutorial powers that arise along the way.

Among the show's devoted followers are lawyers and other members of the legal community who are finding plenty of fodder for debate and discussion. 

Abuse of power

Taman says there is much to be learned from Making a Murderer.

"For example you'll hear people say, 'Why would an innocent person ever confess to something?' And when you watch the way the police exert that pressure and  that confession, you're actually able to see how that could potentially happen to someone, and I think it's important for members of the public who aren't members of the justice system to see very subtle but cumulative abuses of power by the state, and what it would be like to be someone confronting that."

Each podcast will discuss one episode of Making a Murderer. In the first instalment Spratt and Taman are joined by Louise Arbour, former Supreme Court Justice and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Arbour also happens to be Taman's mom. 

"So a former judge, defence lawyer, and former prosecutor — not a bad team for episode one." added Spratt.

One word of warning: The podcast will contain spoilers, so if you haven't watched the next episode of Making a Murderer on Netflix, don't listen to the corresponding episode of The Docket.