Update: Brendan Dassey, nephew to Steven Avery, the primary defendant from the Making a Murderer series on Netflix had his conviction for murder, rape, and mutilation of a corpse overturned by U.S. Magistrate Judge William E. Duffin of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin last Friday. This episode was recorded shortly before the development.
Many people have become familiar with the trial of Brendan Dassey through the 2015 Netflix television series “Making A Murderer.” His case raises a number of concerns regarding youth interrogations and the confessions.
In the debut episode of Planet Lex, host Dan Rodriguez speaks with Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Clinical Professor of Law Steven Drizin and Clinical Assistant Professor of Law Laura Nirider about youth interrogation, false confessions, and their representation of Brendan Dassey. Steve shares that he was contacted by a friend in the Wisconsin state appellate defenders office to represent Brendan. Because of the Wisconsin appellate process, they had to do two years of intensive investigation before filing their appeal with the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. Laura talks about their petition for a writ of habeas corpus asking the Wisconsin federal court to review Brendan’s interrogation confession, his original legal representation, and the way Wisconsin state courts handled Brendan’s case. They both provide insight on federal laws pertinent to the Dassey case and explain how the 5th Amendment protects all citizens from being coerced into giving a confession. They close the interview with an analysis of Brendan’s defense attorney Len Kachinsky’s duty of loyalty breach and the realities of false confessions that they hope people will take away from their legal work.
Steven Drizin is a clinical professor of law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law where he has been on the faculty since 1991. He is also the assistant dean of the Bluhm Legal Clinic. He served as the legal director of the clinic's renowned Center on Wrongful Convictions from March 2005 to September 2013. At the center, Professor Drizin's research interests involve the study of false confessions, and his policy work focuses on supporting efforts around the country to require law enforcement agencies to electronically record custodial interrogations.
Laura Nirider is a clinical assistant professor of law and co-director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth (CWCY) at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Nirider represents individuals who were wrongfully convicted of crimes when they were children or teenagers. Her clients have included Brendan Dassey, whose case was profiled in the Netflix Global series “Making a Murderer,” and Damien Echols of the West Memphis Three, whose case was profiled in the documentary “West of Memphis.”
If you want more “Making a Murderer”, check out the most recent Lawyer 2 Lawyer episode, Inside “Making a Murderer” and the Steven Avery Trial to listen to Dean Strang, Steven Avery’s former defense attorney, and Peter Linton-Smith, who covered the trial, discuss the case and the show.