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Illusion Of Justice Book Review By Yours Truly

I just finished reading Jerome Buting's book which discussed an array of topics not limited to the Steven Avery and Teresa Haibach case. Illusion of Justice gives the reader a peak into the life of Jerome Buting as well as his legal conquests and downfalls, family, faith, and his battle with cancer.

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Illusion of Justice Book Review by Yours Truly

Many of my close friends and family know that I am obsessed with the Making A Murderer documentary series on Netflix and have even met Dean Strang and Jerry Buting on their global tour. With that being said, it should come to no surprise that I purchased Jerry Buting’s novel, Illusion of Justice and binge-read it in the same fashion that I binge-watched the docu series. Buting’s book not only delves into a more in depth narrative of his time on the State v. Avery case but also other noteworthy (and cringeworthy) cases he has also been involved in as well as his family, battle with cancer and his faith.

Though I could probably write about this book for pages on end, I’ll keep it limited to main points as well as how WE the general public can help fix this broken and dilapidated system. Early on in the book, Buting does not stray away from his feelings toward Kratz that a lot of us shared while watching the series. Buting immediately attacks the ethics of prosecutor Ken Kratz with his daytime talk show that he sported with local news channels and the impact it had on producing an unbiased jury pool. This was actually the question that I asked Strang and Buting when I had the opportunity to meet them and Buting discusses this to a great extent in his book and how this affected potential jury members.

Buting also spends a great deal of time discussing Brendan Dassey’s police interviews, one of the most, if not the, most compelling arguments for the prosecution. Buting takes the time to dissect the most crucial aspects of Brendan’s “testimony” and show us the coercive and suggestive nature of both Wiegert and Fassbender as well as the gross misconduct of Brendan’s attorney Kachinsky. Even after Avery’s case concluded with a devastating loss, Buting was able to pick up the pieces and give his heart and soul into analyzing, coding, and summarizing Brendan’s interviews to provide to the Court as well as making copies of said interviews and distributing them to the media. Even though Dassey’s testimony could be seen as the straw that broke the camel’s back in the Avery defense, Buting was still able to fight for this young boy and foster change in the system with how we deal with minors.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book, to me at least, was the entangled web of both Avery’s case as well as the case of Ralph Armstrong. Before this book I had never heard of the Ralph Armstrong case and after following the twists and turns in the case I suddenly could not decide which prosecutor was worse. Both Ken Kratz and John Norsetter were equally hellbent on getting a conviction, no matter the collateral damage done to the defendant, the victim's family or the criminal justice system.

The part of the book that angered me beyond compare is when Buting discusses the procedures that went into excavating, “preserving”, “documenting”, and interpreting Teresa Halbach’s cremains. One thing implemented into our justice system are roadblocks or deterrences, that set standards that law enforcement must follow when handling investigations. If they veer from these protocols they can face serious consequences and evidence can be inadmissible in a court of law. The handling of the burn pit crime scenes, or lack thereof, is not only a disgrace to the deceased, but to the families involved, and the criminal justice system as a whole. Law enforcement did not take any pictures or video footage of the crime scenes, forensic anthropologists were not summoned nor the crime lab. Though the documentary showed numerous incidences of police malpractice and bias, this was one of the most shocking to me. By not properly documenting the scene and calling the appropriate professionals, vital evidence was lost as well as a correct interpretation of what was found, where it was found and how it was found.

The last section of the book is dedicated to normal citizens like you and I, on how we can help create an environment to foster criminal justice reform. The first point Buting says is to get out and vote. As a political science major who has worked on two campaigns, I cannot stress the importance of getting out and voting for LOCAL GOVERNMENT. Most people have tunnel vision when it comes to voting and only get out to vote during presidential cycles. However, reform starts from the ground up, meaning we all need to start where we live by voting for the prosecutors and sheriffs who will be representing US and our ideal criminal justice system. Secondly, Buting discusses jury duty as a way to serve. Though the mere mention of the word “jury duty” may send a tingle up your spine and make you run to the hills, being an impartial and unbiased ally for those “innocent until proven guilty” or even admitting you cannot be an unbiased participant is a step in the right direction.

Reading this book as the world found out that a federal appeals court affirmed the holdings of Magistrate William Duffin which stated that Brendan Dassey’s constitutional rights were violated has been invigorating. After all this time, Brendan has the opportunity to be released from prison, or go through another trial where his coerced words cannot be used against him. As pointed out by Buting, the only thing that convicted Dassey were his own words. No evidence of Teresa Halbach could be found inside Avery’s trailer even though Dassey described a gory and violent scene taking place in his uncle's bedroom. Many like myself have pondered what implications this will have on Avery’s appeal which is being handled by wonderwoman attorney Kathleen Zellner. If you delete Dassey’s confession, all we are left with is shoddy police work, sketchy evidence, and an overwhelming amount of doubt. I am personally excited to see where this case goes as well as what (or who) Dean Strang and Jerry Buting battle next.

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