Dean Strang, attorney and author, widely known for his role as Steven Avery's lawyer as documented in Netflix’s popular series Making a Murderer and for his book Worse Than the Devil: Anarchists, Clarence Darrow, and Justice in a Time of Terror, spoke to a large crowd at Hendrick’s Chapel as part of Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs State of Democracy lecture series on September 9. During the day-long visit to campus, Strang also met with Maxwell School graduate students and attended an after-lecture reception and book signing event.
For his lecture “Humility in Criminal Justice: What It Would Force Us to Reconsider,” Strang drew on his long and distinguished legal career, including the Avery case, to illuminate the adverse roles that class, race, and ethnicity play in wrongful convictions and to examine how the U.S. criminal justice system deals with the issue of uncertainty. In asking the question, “How do we reconcile ourselves to this pervasive uncertainty and how do we administer something like justice, when so much remains so uncertain, so often?” Strang stated, “I think at least one answer lies in a value that has gone out of vogue with police officers, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges, and that’s humility."
In his remarks, Strang argued that humility would force us to reconsider among other things, the use of capital punishment and life without parole in sentencing; the finality of verdicts; and the two- to three-fold disparity in government expenditures for criminal defense as compared to prosecution.
Piror to the event, Grant Reeher, director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute and a professor of political science at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship sat down with Strang for a one-on-one interview to discuss his reflections on the lack of humility within the criminal justice System. Video of the interview can be viewed below.