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I've recently binge-watched the entire Netflix original series Making A Murderer and while I have a million questions, I suppose if I could narrow it down to one, it would be the following (some background for those not familiar).

Officers who were actively being sued by Mr. Avery, the accused, were ordered to not be involved in the process of searching Mr. Avery's property, collecting evidence or having any direct access or involvement in the case because of the fact that Mr. Avery had a lawsuit before the courts against these officers for 36 million dollars. This was willingly admitted by the department at the beginning and because of this conflict, they handed over the case to police from a neighboring county.

They were being sued for causing him to be imprisoned for 18 years for a sexual assault that DNA evidence proved he did not commit. Later, it was revealed that at best this was because of gross negligence and at worst due to deliberate malicious action by many police officers.

However, during murder investigation, they were allowed on to his property. Not only were they allowed on his property, but they "discovered" all major evidence used to convict him, or had documented, private access to the rest of the evidence discovered.

My question is, why is it that such evidence was allowed to be used against Mr. Avery without being thrown out, when even by their own admission, these officers had a clear conflict of interest being involved at all? How is it that the State can confess its own conflict of interest, and ignore it entirely at the same time?

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Agents of the state are not presumed to be perfect. The justice system and due process are designed to weigh all the nuances of evidence and try to provide a fair outcome. So in a trial the fact that there was a conflict of interest would and should be brought to light, and the judge and jury will consider that conflict and how it should color the evidence.

Even when there is no explicit conflict of interest, a great deal of a criminal trial may be spent by each side trying to impress upon the jury the reliability or dubiousness of the provenance and import of every piece of evidence.

Only when the justice system determines that fundamental rights have been violated (e.g., fourth- and fifth-amendment rights) will it completely exclude evidence so procured.

  • I guess I just can't understand how evidence can be submitted that was collected by someone who faces paying out 36 million dollars if found liable in a current case, or how the State can admit that they pulled officers because they knew it was clearly wrong to have them involved, but then secretly let them get involved, and then when its publicly discovered, act like it's not a problem at all. – user900 Dec 30 '15 at 21:33
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    @TechnikEmpire - Well it's the defense's job to make it clear that it's a big problem. Prosecutors are supposed to be impartial ministers of justice, and police are supposed to be detached officers of the law, but in practice they have an extremely wide berth before their actions are considered so abusive as to be subject to anything more than scrutiny or question. As people they tend to enjoy seeing "bad guys" put away, and so in practice they rarely consider it "a problem" if questionable conduct still leads to the right result. – feetwet Dec 30 '15 at 21:42
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    Yeah it's far from a perfect system. In this particular case the defense was actually bound from third party implication so they were not allowed to suggest that anyone else was guilty of the murder, but then in closing the State made the comment "in order to believe that the police framed Mr. Avery, you have to believe that they also killed Teresa.", and the defense couldn't respond. – user900 Dec 30 '15 at 21:46
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    Not to mention - a TV show in entertainment; not jurisprudence. – Dale M Dec 31 '15 at 6:12

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