The popular Netflix docu-series strongly suggests that the murder for which Steven Avery is currently serving a life sentence without parole was a product of police corruption, possibly due to the multi-million dollar settlement he was owed by the department responsible for initially putting him behind bars (for 18 years) when he was wrongfully convicted of rape. The estimated award was $36 million dollars.

avery-freedAs Mr Avery was going through the process to determine his due compensation, the police officers who put him there were preparing for the worst – their reputation and careers would both be lost forever. It was around this time that Mr Avery was charged with murder and his focus went back to the defensive. He claimed he was innocent and required serious legal representation to prove it. As we all know, this representation doesn’t come cheap and Mr Avery had not yet received his compensation.

Given time was of the essence, Mr Avery was forced to settle his $36m law suit for a mere $400,000 in order to pay his criminal defence lawyers, forgoing over $35.5m in damages likely to come his way, not to mention having the people responsible held accountable.

If you watched the series, you will know that Mr Avery’s defence lawyers were unsuccessful in proving his innocence for murder despite a highly compelling argument which seems to establish requisite reasonable doubt for a “not guilty” verdict.

Whether he truly committed the murder is a contentious debate.

But what if something like Lawfunder existed back when Avery was charged with murder?

In the hypothetical world where Lawfunder existed back in 2005, Mr Avery could have leveraged his (expected) incoming $36m to call for investors to fund his defence against the murder charge.

Whilst the two lawyers who ran Mr Avery’s defence did what appears to be an impeccable job, it is unlikely that more money towards his defence would have changed the ‘guilty’ outcome. However, the source of the money used to pay his attorneys could have had a drastic impact on his appeal efforts and his family.

If the crowd (or even one or two persons) fronted the funds to cover Mr Avery’s defence, $36,000,000 in compensation for wrongful imprisonment would’ve still been on the way to him instead of being, essentially, flushed down the drain in a frantic attempt to prove his innocence and remain a free man. This money could then have been distributed in a way that it:

  • paid back the investors into Mr Avery’s $400,000 defence (let’s say for example, 10 times over for an impressive ROI); AND
  • provided the Avery family $32 million dollars to use towards his future appeal efforts.

makingamurdererThe police officers responsible for Mr Avery’s original wrongful conviction would have faced the music, investors through Lawfunder would’ve made a windfall profit, the Avery family would have the funds required to mount substantial defence efforts and Mr Avery could have potentially been found ‘not guilty’ on appeal.

Whilst there is certainly no guarantee that receiving the money owed to him would’ve change his current circumstance, it would unquestionably enable a far better service of justice given the obvious unfortunate events in the Avery timeline.

The Avery family have recently launched a fundraising website in an attempt to raise money to mount another defence effort. The website includes a Donate page through PayPal, his physical mailing address, as well as that of their family’s auto salvage yard. You can also purchase merchandise such as clothing which proceeds also go towards his appeal efforts.
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We post crowdfunding campaigns for those who need help affording legal representation yet do not qualify for legal aid. We also work with Australian Community Legal Centres to provide free legal crowdfunding advice.