How Many Wrongful Convictions Has Kathleen Zellner Overturned? Steven Avery's Lawyer Is Well-Prepared
The Making a Murderer docuseries on Netflix has a lot of viewers convinced that Steven Avery did not kill Teresa Halbach, despite his 2007 conviction for her murder, of which he still maintains his innocence. His new lawyer is now convinced of the same. With the help of Tricia Bushnell, the legal director of the Midwest Innocence Project, Kathleen Zellner has agreed to represent Steven Avery, which could be a big deal for Avery. Zellner is well-versed in law, but just how many wrongful convictions has Kathleen Zellner overturned?
Zellner is known for being an expert in wrongful conviction cases and was named Chicago Lawyer magazine's person of the year in 2014. In her years as a lawyer, Zellner has had 17 exonerations according to her website, each one preparing her to take on such a difficult and public case like Steven Avery's. Her Twitter bio currently reads: "Unmaking 'Murderers': One False Conviction at a Time."
One case that she managed to overturn was the conviction of Joe Burrows, according to the National Registry of Exonerations. The Los Angeles Times reported he was convicted of murder and placed on death row in 1989. According to local Illinois paper The News-Gazette, Zellner and her team found evidence — with Burrows already on death row — that was enough to call for a new trial and get the charges against him dropped in 1994.
Zellner also has experience where DNA evidence calls for an overturned conviction. Zellner represented Kevin Fox, who was convicted of his daughter's murder, according to CBS News. Fox was released after eight months in prison, according to the Chicago Tribune, when Zellner called for the state to test the DNA evidence which proved he was not the killer in 2005.
Additionally, Northwestern University's Center On Wrongful Convictions reported that Zellner helped release Alprentiss Nash, who had spent 17 years behind bars after being convicted of the murder of Leon Stroud. Nash was released in 2012 after DNA testing proved he wasn't connected to the case, according to CBS News.
All of these cases are just a sampling of Zellner's successes. Now, viewers will have to wait and see what effect she and Bushnell have on Avery's case.