Chicago lawyer Kathleen Zellner announced Friday that her firm would assume Avery’s representation, along with Tricia Bushnell, the legal director of the Midwest Innocence Project.
Avery’s trial and subsequent conviction in the death of Teresa Halbach, following an earlier wrongful conviction, have made headlines following the release of Netflix’s series in December.
The 10-part documentary series, filmed over many years, heavily scrutinizes the course of Avery’s arrest, trial and conviction for murder, and has inspired an impassioned call for his pardon and release.
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Earlier this week, the White House responded to an online petition which garnered nearly 130,000 signatures and sought a presidential pardon for Avery. However, because Avery was convicted of state offenses, the president cannot pardon them.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has already said he will not pardon Avery, as he has decided not to issue any pardons during his term as governor.
“The Zellner Law Firm is looking forward to adding Mr. Avery to its long list of wrongful conviction exonerations,” Avery’s new lawyers said in their Friday press release.
Neither Zeller Law Firm nor Avery’s former lawyer, Dean Strang, immediately responded to a request for comment.
In a 2014 profile naming her Chicago Lawyer‘s Person of Year, Zellner was hailed as “the rescuer” for her work on wrongful conviction cases, including a string of exonerations cited in the piece.
She “has become a standard bearer among civil rights attorneys and has long been known as a fierce courtroom advocate,” according to the profile.
Days before announcing she would take the case, Zellner tweeted about Halbach’s death: “whoever deleted Teresa Halbach cellphone calls is either the murderer or part of coverup. Either way the killer is free.”
In a statement before the documentary’s release, the Halbach family said, “Having just passed the 10-year anniversary of the death of our daughter and sister, Teresa, we are saddened to learn that individuals and corporations continue to create entertainment and to seek profit from our loss.
“We continue to hope that the story of Teresa’s life brings goodness to the world.”