‘Making a Murderer’ Journalist on Ithaca College Constitution Day Panel

By David Maley, September 9, 2016

‘Making a Murderer’ Journalist on Ithaca College Constitution Day Panel

A journalist who covered the trial of the defendant portrayed in Netflix’s “Making a Murderer” documentary will join a defense attorney and a prosecutor for a panel discussion at Ithaca College on Thursday, Sept. 15.

Titled “Rights of the Accused: Fact or Fiction? An In Depth Look at Constitutional Protections of Criminal Defendants,” the event will be held at 7 p.m. in Emerson Suites, Phillips Hall. It is free and open to the public.

The discussion is taking place in observance of Constitution Day, which annually commemorates the September 17, 1787, signing of the United States Constitution. On or around that day, all educational institutions receiving federal funding are required to hold an educational program pertaining to the U.S. Constitution.

Discussing issues of defendants’ rights in the criminal court system will be:

  • Tom Kertscher, a PolitiFact Wisconsin reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper. In 2003, Kertscher broke the story that Steven Avery — a man convicted of rape and attempted murder — would be freed after 18 years in prison after being exonerated by DNA evidence. Last December Netflix released a 10-part series, “Making a Murderer,” which examined Avery’s wrongful conviction.
  • Frank Armani, a criminal defense attorney who gained notoriety in the mid-1970s for representing a suspected serial killer who told him where his victims’ bodies were, in what became known as the Buried Bodies Case. Armani’s struggle to protect these confidences earned him criminal charges, a disciplinary investigation, death threats, ostracism within his community and extensive damage to his law practice.
  • Gary Surdell, the most senior Assistant District Attorney of Tompkins County. Surdell has taught Criminal Law for the legal studies program in the Ithaca College School of Business for 15 years and serves as a supervisor to legal studies interns in the Tompkins County District Attorney’s Office.

The Constitution Day event is sponsored by the School of Business.