“I like being the underdog. I don’t like bullies. And often the government seems to be in the bully role or can bully people even if a prosecutor doesn’t mean to exercise his or her power that way. The sovereign powers are so enormous, and it’s so lopsidedly in favor of the government no matter the good faith of the prosecutor…” Dean Strang
Americans tend to root for the underdog. Nathan Heflik wrote on this subject in “Psychology Today” stating: “We like to back the team that has its back against the wall, not because we like backing losers, but because we like to see a team beat the odds.”
Put another way, we love a great story with a dramatic arc. And both Strang, a Wisconsin trial lawyer passionate about criminal justice, and Steven Avery, a small town auto salvage dealer on trial for the murder of Teresa Halbach, along with a large cast of colorful characters, gave us a sensational drama played out in the popular Netflix docudrama, “Making a Murderer.” It made Avery a hero to many, and it made Strang an overnight celebrity.
Although the 10-episode film aired last December, Strang’s deep commitment to advancing criminal justice reforms remains strong. On Monday, Sept. 19, he opened the fall 2016 Assembly Series with his talk, “Considering Systemic Injustice in Light of ‘Making a Murderer’: The Need for Criminal Justice Reforms.” The program took place at 5 p.m. in Graham Chapel.
Strang never intended to set foot inside a courtroom, but serendipity interceded and he served as a federal prosecutor for five years. To his surprise, he discovered a desire to practice criminal defense, but for the other side – for the underdog.
He is co-founder of StrangBradley, LLC, and is an adjunct professor at Marquette University Law School, the University of Wisconsin Law School, and University of Wisconsin’s Division of Continuing Studies. The author of “Worse than the Devil: Anarchists, Clarence Darrow, and Justice in a Time of Terror” will publish his second book in 2018.
NOTE: We are unable to offer a recording of his talk.