When Making a Murderer premiered on Netflix in 2016, Steven Avery's attorneys Dean Strang and Jerry Buting became household names. Now that the second part of the true crime documentary has been released, a different high profile lawyer is being thrust into the spotlight. Viewers tuning in to get an update on Avery's case might be wondering: Who is Kathleen Zellner? The powerhouse defense lawyer is a central figure of Making a Murderer's second season.
"I never heard of a lawyer who's got so many people out," Steven Avery remarks in the first episode of Making a Murderer Season 2. According to the the documentary, Steven first took notice of Zellner while watching Dateline. His girlfriend at the time, Sandy Greenman, took it upon herself to initially write Zellner in January of 2012, and she and Avery continued to reach out to her. "I always had a good feeling about her," Avery noted.
It took some time, but Zellner eventually responded to the interested pair. She told them she had seen the documentary and thought "she was the best one for the case," per Sandy's comments. When Avery got wind of the news, he referred to himself as a "happy camper." Steven Avery is currently serving a life sentence after being convicted in the murder of Teresa Halbach, a murder which he denies committing. Why is Chicago-based Kathleen Zellner taking him on as a client such a noteworthy introduction to Steven's story?
As Making a Murderer's second part explains: "Kathleen Zellner has won 17 exonerations, more than any other private lawyer in the United States. Through civil rights cases, she has recovered millions of dollars for the exonerees."
"I told Steven Avery the same thing I tell everyone," Zellner reveals in the first episode of Making a Murderer Season 2. "If you hire me and you're guilty, trust me — I'll do a way better job than the prosecutors. I will find if you are guilty and we're going to do testing, we can't control the results. The results will be turned over to both sides, so really think about this. You would have to be an idiot to be hiring me to find out that you're guilty."
As Zellner further explains, her "approach" to conviction cases she's overturned means she has to do "two things simultaneously." She clarifies:
I have to first take apart the state's entire case, but at the same time, I want to figure out exactly what happened. I'm actually more driven by the desire to know what happened. Because once I figure out what happened, then the state's case collapses.
Making a Murderer's second season additionally highlights how Zellner's social media usage has played a part in her involvement on the case. According to the documentary, Zellner has frequently took to Twitter to give updates on the Avery case, as well as express her thoughts on the case.
As her interviews suggest, Kathleen appears confident that she can overturn Avery's case... if he is, in fact, innocent.
"I would say to the people on the Avery case, if this case is solid, if he's guilty, I'll fail. So, there's nothing to worry about. But if it's not solid and someone else did it, then I'm going to overturn it and that's going to come out," she declares at one point.
Making a Murderer Season 2 is currently streaming on Netflix.