Kathleen Zellner, Steven Avery’s feisty post-conviction lawyer, is at the center of Making a Murderer 2. That has some people wondering about Zellner’s own family and whether she has a husband. The gritty, no-nonsense lawyer who has made a name for herself by freeing people from prison has earned fans across the Internet (and some detractors).
Is Kathleen Zellner married? The answer is yes. She also has a daughter.
Netflix has provided a brief overview of season 2. In a press statement, Netflix explained, “Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos return to the Midwest where they have exclusive access to Steven Avery and his co-defendant and nephew Brendan Dassey, their families and the legal teams fighting for justice on their behalf. Over the course of 10 new episodes, Making a Murderer Part 2 provides an in-depth look at the high-stakes postconviction process, exploring the emotional toll the process takes on all involved.” (You can see crime scene photos from the case here.)
Part 2 has delivered as promised; it takes viewers into the slower-paced labyrinth of the post-conviction appellate process and chronicles Zellner’s efforts to poke holes in the prosecution’s theories, from the blood evidence in the victim’s car to the location where her body first burned. In court, Zellner has had less success, as her motions to overturn Avery’s conviction have not been granted.
Kathleen Zellner is a suburban Chicago attorney who began representing the former Manitowoc County, Wisconsin man after the first Netflix series, Making a Murderer, garnered an international following. It showcased the trials of Avery and Dassey, who were both convicted in state court in the murder of photographer Teresa Halbach, who had come to the Avery family junkyard to photograph a van. Dassey was only 16 at the time, and Avery is his uncle. The case has a very unusual twist because Avery had recently been freed after spending years in prison for a previous sexual assault that he did not commit.
Here’s what you need to know about Zellner’s husband and family:
Zellner’s Husband Is a Commodities & Bond Trader
Were it not for her husband, Kathleen Zellner might have been walking the halls of academe instead of trying to free defendants in courtrooms.
Law Crossing.com says it was Zellner’s husband who encouraged her to go to law school. Kathleen Zellner’s husband is named Robert Zellner and, according to LawCrossing.com, he works as a “commodities and bond trader.” Kathleen was considering becoming a history professor until her husband suggested law.
Chicago Magazine says her husband, Robert Zellner, “held a post-doctorate fellowship in econometrics (he went on to be CEO of CitiCorp Futures Inc. and CitiCorp Options.” They have a daughter, Anne Zellner, who is a lawyer in Denver, says the magazine.
Robert Zellner has also been described as an “Independent trader, former director of Chicago Mercantile Exchange and former CEO, Citicorp Futures Corp.”
Robert Zellner told Traders.com that he is from Florida and was “was always a bit of a dreamer.” He was the son of a doctor and had a grandfather who was a speculator. He decided to get a fellowship to avoid being sent to Vietnam. He started working for the Federal Reserve in Atlanta. He grew interested in commodity markets. “That’s where I got the idea that money was like a commodity and you could look at the supply demand balance for money, just like you could for wheat or corn or anything else,” he said.
The article quotes him as saying, “The only time you understand the inscrutable, the only time you have knowledge of it, is after the sun’s gone down. After it is over. That’s really true of trading.”
The LawCrossing site says Kathleen Zellner also likes swimming and pistol shooting. Jessica Biel was supposed to play her in a movie based on a serial killer confessing to her.
“She worked for several big firms after graduating from Northern Illinois Law School and defended hospitals and insurance companies,” the article says, before she started her own law firm. She has received major awards as a lawyer, including from the American Bar Association.
The Columbian Blogs says she secured five multi-million dollar verdicts in a single year.
She declined to tell the reporters how much she earns. She made an analogy between trial work and race car driving, Law Crossing.com says.
Zellner’s law firm website says: “Rewriting the ending for the wrongly convicted.” The oddity of the Steven Avery case is that he was wrongfully convicted – and spent years in prison – for a sexual assault he did not commit before the Halbach murder. Chicago Magazine dubbed her “The Rescuer.”
Zellner has been an attorney for more than 26 years in the Chicago area. Newsweek says she has “secured the exoneration of 17 men and won almost $90 million from wrongful conviction and medical malpractice lawsuits.” The news magazine said she helped free four men convicted in the murder of a Chicago medical student. She also once got a killer to confess on the witness stand, freeing another man off death row.
She defended Ryan Ferguson, who spent 10 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of a Missouri murder.
The New York Times said Zellner sued Lake County, Illinois for a man named Jerry Hobbs who “spent five years in jail for killing his daughter and her friend; he was released last year after sperm found inside one of the girls was linked to a convicted rapist and accused murderer.”
Chicago Magazine says Zellner was born May 7, 1957, to Owen Daniel and Winifred Thomas in Midland, Texas. She “was the second oldest of eight children,” said Chicago Magazine, adding that her mother was a pediatric nurse and her father was “a geologist and engineer for oil company ConocoPhillips.”
Zellner graduated in 1981 from Northern Illinois University College of Law and clerked for a 2nd District Appellate Court justice, Chicago Magazine said. She once said she thinks women make better lawyers than men do.
Zellner Has Promised Big Revelations in the Case
Zellner made it clear from the start that she intends to prove Avery’s innocence, despite the complex forensic and circumstantial evidence against him. Newsweek says she watched the Netflix’ series in her 3,000-square-foot home theater and grew angry because she felt Avery was treated as disposable due to his social class.
The Averys ran a junkyard in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, where some of them were regarded a bit as social outcasts. The first Netflix series argued this bias played a role in Avery’s conviction (and his earlier exoneration for the sexual assault that he did not commit years before.)
Zellner told The New York Times, “she has a different person in mind who she believes killed Ms. Halbach.”
In 2017, Zellner filed a lengthy motion asking for a new trial for Avery, but it was rejected by a Wisconsin judge. You can read that court motion here.
She told Newsweek she has “cellphone records that show Halbach left Avery’s property before she was killed.” She also claimed that, “Halbach made two calls to a phone number that belonged to a man recently charged with sex crimes in Arizona,” said Newsweek.
Zellner told The New York Times: “There is evidence that already exists in the case that points to a different location and a different suspect. We’ve got a combination of forensic evidence and a tip from somebody that we’ve interviewed multiple times that we think is credible.”