Federal Judge Overturns Conviction of Brendan Dassey

On Friday, August 12, 2016, U.S. Magistrate Judge William E. Duffin overturned the conviction of Brendan Dassey, one of the defendants highlighted in the documentary ‘Making A Murderer.’ The judge has given the state 90 days to either initiate proceedings to retry him or release him from prison.

In his 91-page decision, the judge concluded:

“The investigators repeatedly claimed to already know what happened on October 31 and assured Dassey that he had nothing to worry about. These repeated false promises, when considered in conjunction with all relevant factors, most especially Dassey’s age, intellectual deficits, and the absence of a supportive adult, rendered Dassey’s confession involuntary under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.”

Law Professors Steven A. Drizin and Laura Nirider of the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth represented Dassey in the appellate process. The Clinic has represented Dassey since 2008.

View the full decision here.

Read the Center on Wrongful Convictions press release, which includes links to instructive  information regarding youth interrogation and false confessions.

2 responses to “Federal Judge Overturns Conviction of Brendan Dassey

  1. The appointed trial lawyer was private, not a public defender, and a solo. Two characteristics that lead to wrongful convictions–in federal courts as well as state courts. In federal courts the appointed lawyer automatically is assigned to the direct appeal. How likely is it that lawyer will self-criticize?

    Kachinsky, the trial lawyer, used to be in a partnership that ended bitterly, according to another Wisconsin appeal. And that was his second failed partnership.

    Defendants are doomed when they are assigned to private attorneys who are solos. Typically, it is not as obvious as in this case but they need to be warned.

  2. I have been in Wisconsin most of my life. False\ coerced confessions do occur, it happened to me. The coercing does not stop with the police. Having demanded trial for child rape I did not commit I found myself confronted by other state actors who also demanded that I admit to the crime during the presentencing phase. I was told, ” either admit it or you will more than likely to get closer to the maximum (20 years) penalty.” I refused telling them to f#$k off. I was furious! Eventually they wore me down by attrition, suggesting I was sure to get the Max, especially if I used foul language in the court. Toward the end, I was told to “just pretend, it will make it easier on me.” They even had me practice my lines for when I went before the judge. I ended up getting 60 months in WISDOC. I actually spent 1210 days locked up for a crime committed by someone else.

    I have no doubts that Brandon’s confession was false. I have no doubt that Wisconsin prosecutors will try again.

    Tim Lawver

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