Popularity of Netflix series overwhelms Manitowoc County, Wis., records custodian

Mugshot of Steve Avery in 1985.

Mugshot of Steve Avery in 1985.

(David Trotman-Wilkins / Chicago Tribune)

The popularity of the Netflix series “Making a Murderer” has resulted in a barrage of requests for court records from the case it follows.

The custodian of those records, the Manitowoc County Clerk of Courts office, has been inundated with inquiries from locals and people from around the world who want to see the transcripts, exhibits and other documents in the Steven Avery case.

Avery was convicted in 2007 of killing freelance photographer Teresa Halbach at his family’s auto salvage yard and sentenced to life in prison. Avery made headlines four years earlier when he was released from prison after spending nearly two decades behind bars for a rape he didn’t commit.

The chief clerk, Lynn Zigmunt says there are more than six banker boxes of material. She’s assigned an employee to handle the requests each day.


“It’s a lot of information, a lot of documents, so we have to just be careful, but that’s our job as custodians of the records,” Zigmunt told WBAY-TV. The requests began picking up about a week ago, she said.

The clerk put together a “roadmap” to the thousands of documents so people can pinpoint the material they need and the clerks can easily find it.

“So somebody doesn’t have access to the whole thing, they’re pulling things out, putting them back in wrong places, and then we have a mess to clean up later,” said Zigmunt, “so we are taking control of it in a more manageable way right from the start.”

On Wednesday a woman from Australia requested copies of the trial’s entire transcript, and at $1.25 a page, she will be billed $6,000, Zigmunt said.

Zigmunt said she expects the requests to wane in the future because someone who has purchased the documents will likely put them online.

Associated Press