Where Are Steven Avery's Lawyers Today? Dean Strang & Jerome Buting Are Still Big In Wisconsin
The most fascinating courtroom drama on Netflix right now doesn't star Matthew McConaughey or come from a John Grisham novel. Making A Murderer is a 10-part documentary series about a man named Steven Avery and two cases that rocked a Wisconsin town. After being exonerated by DNA evidence for a crime for which he'd already served 18 years, Avery was arrested and convicted with murder of missing photographer Teresa Halbach. Making A Murderer filmmakers Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi use videotaped interrogations, recorded phone calls from prison, new interviews, and actual courtroom footage to pull viewers in to the high-stakes, high-stress investigation and trial. Steven Avery's defense lawyers Dean Strang and Jerome Buting get a fair share of screentime in the documentary, since the impetus was on them to poke holes in the state's case against their client. But, the Making A Murderer trial ended in 2007. So, where are Dean Strang and Jerome Buting now, eight years after the Avery verdict?
First up: Dean Strang is still practicing law in the state of Wisconsin. He's a partner in the firm of Strang Bradley LLC in Madison. The firm uses the tagline, "Superior criminal defense lawyers serving people and organizations" on its website. And, in his site biography, Strang claims he has the kind of professional endurance that a trial lawyer needs to exhibit in a case that's complicated (such as Avery's, though he makes no mention of that trial on his site). "When this means taking the longer, harder route, I do that with a client. Shortcuts usually serve a lawyer’s comfort, not a client’s cause. And cutting corners serves neither the client nor the lawyer.
In addition to his work in the courtroom, Strang teaches at the University Of Wisconsin in the Department Of Continuing Studies. Students can hear his lectures in classes like "Clarence Darrow And Four Trials Of The American Century" and "The Sixteenth Through Twenty-First Amendments: Progressive Influence At Its Peak." According to his site bio, he's also had his writings published in several legal journals and authored a book titled Worse Than The Devil: Anarchists, Clarence Darrow, and Justice in a Time Of Terror. In October of this year, an op-ed by Strang ran in the Journal Sentinel calling for reforms to Wisconsin's John Doe law, which "provides prosecutors extraordinary powers to conduct sweeping secret investigations on a thin showing of suspicion." It's difficult not to make a connection between Strang's demand for "transparency and accountability" in law enforcement and his argument in the Avery case, which accused the Manitowoc sheriff's department of allegedly framing Avery. (In the show, the sheriff's department maintained that was an "impractical and impossible" scenario.) Strang, however, essentially cut ties with Steven Avery when a Manitowoc County court allowed him to withdraw from the convict's civil suit in which the Halbach family filed a wrongful death case against Avery in 2006. (The case was later dropped in 2010.)
Strang's co-counsel Jerome Buting is also still an active lawyer. A partner in Buting, Williams, & Stilling, S.C., the attorney's website lists "Homicides and Violent Crimes," "Child Pornography," "Wrongful Convictions" and "Internet Sex Crimes" among his specialty areas. Buting has lectured all over Wisconsin and throughout the country on internet crimes and the use of DNA as forensic evidence. Avery's trial isn't included in Buting's links to "Representative Cases," but he has spoken about it since. In an interview with Wisconsin Super Lawyers in 2012, Buting said he accepts what some have called his "bad cop" designation in his partnership with Strang. "We weren’t intending to do good cop/bad cop, but it developed that way as the case went on," he said.
While Making A Murderer captures a moment in their careers through presenting the case of Steven Avery, life for defense attorneys Dean Strang and Jerome Buting does go on, and it seems like they're doing well today despite losing the infamous case.