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How Sisyphus Brewing snagged defense attorney Dean Strang for 'Making a Murderer' discussion

Dean Strang
Netflix
Defense attorney Dean Strang shown in an episode of "Making a Murderer."

The mania over “Making a Murderer,” Netflix’s hit documentary of Wisconsin justice jumping the tracks, brings the fever to Minneapolis on Jan. 27. That’s when one of Steven Avery’s defense attorneys, Dean Strang — who has become something of a folk hero — will join a forum at ​Sisyphus Brewing​ in downtown Minneapolis.

Local attorneys and best buddies Joe Friedberg and Ron Rosenbaum have given the case of benighted Avery — the convicted, imprisoned, released and convicted “murderer” — plenty of attention on Rosenbaum’s ​“Holding Court podcast (co­hosted by Lucy Quinlivan). When Paul Nolan, a Sisyphus patron, brainstormed the idea of an event to kick around the legal twists and malfeasance of the the case, he approached Rosenbaum, asking if he and Friedberg  were interested. Rosenbaum encouraged him to at least check with Strang’s people over in Wisconsin to see if they would make the slog over. “The worst they can say is, ‘No.’ ”

To everyone’s surprise, Strang himself said, “Yes,” having been tipped off to the Friedberg-Rosenbaum podcast conversations, which are — as you might imagine — somewhat better informed on the legal proprieties than your average, well, brewpub blather. Tickets sold out almost immediately, leaving Nolan talking with Sisyphus owners Catherine Cuddy and Sam Harriman about hooking up a closed-circuit feed from their 90­-person performance room into the much larger brew pub space.

As of Friday, Cuddy was “still working on it.” If they can get it rigged, there’s a possibility they’ll put another 60 or so tickets up for sale. All the proceeds go to the Wisconsin Innocence Project.

On Friday, Strang showed up on "CBS This Morning," which Gawker hyped with a headline screaming, “Steven Avery’s Defense Attorney ‘Absolutely’ Doubts Avery’s Innocence,” which was more than a little over the top.

One of many good pieces on the 10-­part series and case is by ​Bronwen Dickey at Slate​. Sample quote: “If an innocent man can be railroaded by law enforcement twice in one lifetime, I thought, then Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, must be where virtue goes to die. Even the sky that hangs over the place looks like a steel door waiting to slam shut. And that, of course, is exactly how the directors of ​ Making a Murderer, ​Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi, want me to feel. They have constructed every frame to extract from me a sense of moral outrage that is predicated — whether the directors admit it or not — on Avery’s innocence in the murder of 25­-year-­old Teresa Halbach. Which is why, days later, I am as frustrated with the series as I am compelled by it.”

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Speaking of Rosenbaum, his on­-then-­off TV show on KMSP-TV (Fox 9) with KFAN radio personality Dan Barreiro, “Enough Said,” is back on. This time for good, or at least as permanently as anything in TV ever is. Fox and iHeart Radio, which holds Barreiro’s contract, ironed out their issues, although not to the point where either gentleman is allowed to speak to the press without an executive OK from company headquarters.

The show, which will run at 9:30 Fridays (beginning this week), is a blatant rip­off of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption,” which I say as a good thing, since both Rosenbaum and Barreiro have a habit of talking about things they know something about.

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Also worth mentioning: A couple of significant hires over at MPR. Brian Bakst, one of the AP’s best local reporters, is officially signing on as Tom Scheck’s replacement, with politics/government as his primary focus. Scheck  is moving to MPR's still­-forming investigative team, about which MPR has said very little.

Also coming aboard at MPR, to cover education, is Solvejg Wastvedt, a St. Olaf grad coming in from upstate New York.

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