Dassey legal team includes Supreme Court veterans

Published: Feb. 14, 2018 at 11:05 AM CST
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One of Brendan Dassey's attorneys says his team has partnered with experienced Supreme Court attorneys as they prepare to take their arguments before the highest court in the land.

Steven Drizin, the founder of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, took part in a Facebook Live with Concord Law School at Kaplan University.

Dassey and his uncle, Steven Avery, are serving life sentences for the murder of Halbach. Investigators say Halbach's remains were found on the Avery property in Manitowoc County. Avery and Dassey were convicted of 1st Degree Intentional Homicide during separate trials.

Dassey was 16 at the time of the killing, and his defense argues his low IQ made him susceptible to making an involuntary confession. The confession was a big part of the prosecution's case against Dassey and Avery.

Drizin and his team have petitioned the United States Supreme Court to review a decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that kept Dassey behind bars.

In a 4-3 ruling,

That decision overturned a lower court's ruling that tossed out Dassey's conviction.

U.S. Magistrate Judge William Duffin had ruled that repeated false promises by detectives, when considered with other factors like Dassey's age, intellectual deficits and the absence of a supportive adult, led him to determine that Dassey's confession was involuntary under the U.S. Constitution.

There's only one court higher that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals: the United States Supreme Court.

Drizin says his team will be filing a brief "in a few days." He's assembled a team that includes experienced Supreme Court litigators.

"The decision boils down to: Do we argue the case before the U.S. Supreme Court or do we partner with more experienced Supreme Court litigators? People who have argued dozens of times before the court. Former solicitor generals who are well known to the justices.

"And it became clear to me, both from prior experience and from some of the comments of some of the justices recently who have said that they think it's akin to malpractice to not have a seasoned litigator arguing before the Court, that we needed to partner with more experienced Supreme Court litigators.

"And we have partnered with the best. Somebody that's argued before the court dozens of times. I've worked with him in the past. He and his group of lawyers at his firm are some of the best and brightest Supreme Court litigators in the world.

"Very excited at the fact that in a few days when our brief is filed, the world will know that we've done everything we can to get only the best for Brendan Dassey."

The case was well known in Northeast Wisconsin, but it became an international obsession following the release of the 2015 Netflix docu-series "Making a Murderer." Filmmakers are working on a sequel that covers the appeals process.

"I think season two is going to just pick up where the story left off. I don't know that for a fact, but I think, and this is what I'm excited about, if it's done as well as season one, is it's going to give the public an in-depth view of a process that is largely unknown to them: the post-conviction process. The appeals process. The investigation into a claim of actual innocence. The legal strategizing about how to formulate the claims that might bring relief. At oral argument, when the cases are before courts of appeal. This part of the practice is rarely captured in documentaries. And I'm hopeful that it will shine a bright light on the kind of work Laura [Nirider, Dassey attorney] and I and other Innocence Projects are doing around the country."

Steven Avery is also seeking post-conviction relief. Avery attorney Kathleen Zellner has filed documents claiming new evidence and a new witness should earn Avery and new trial.

Action 2 News will continue to follow the developments in both cases.

Attorney Steven Drizin of the "Making a Murderer" Documentary Discusses Wrongful Convictions of Juvenile Defendants

Join us for a live discussion with Steven Drizin, the attorney from the “Making a Murderer” documentary and founder of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, hosted by Concord Law School Dean Martin Pritikin. Click below to get a Facebook reminder and join us to learn more about Steven Drizin's work in the area of wrongful convictions and forced confessions of juvenile defendants.

Posted by Concord Law School at Purdue University Global on Tuesday, February 13, 2018