SIXTH HOUR: The Wrongful Conviction of Brendan Dassey
The AEDPA: Dismantling the Great Writ

The AEDPA: Dismantling the Great Writ

May 23, 2021

When the federal judges that made up the en banc majority found that while there were factors that supported finding Brendan Dassey’s confession involuntary; that his confession was riddled with inconsistencies and that interrogators did offer up broad assurances that honesty would be rewarded with leniency, the slim majority determined that this was not enough to uphold what four other federal judges found to be a “profound miscarriage of justice.” For the majority climbing the insurmountable wall that AEDPA built took a judicial courage they lacked.

In this episode of the Sixth Hour, I’m joined by Professor Brandon Garrett, a distinguished Professor of Law and constitutional scholar prolific in the study of the innocent exonerated by DNA testing whose empirical research on the criminal justice system includes false confessions, forensics, eyewitness testimony and so much more. Join us for a masterclass in AEDPA.

The Conspirator: High Crimes and Misdemeanours

The Conspirator: High Crimes and Misdemeanours

April 5, 2021

“It was rumoured that there were people in the department of justice here saying, ‘leave it alone, don’t take it further,’ there are people who were offended but you know we got to have our win,” recalls Professor Michele LaVigne. As Brendan’s post-conviction appeal steamrolled its way through the federal courts the Wisconsin legal fraternity was as split as the en banc majority who had abandoned their call to conscience.

In this episode I am joined by Professor LaVigne Clinical Professor of Law Emeritus and co-author of the herculean analysis; Under the Hood: Brendan Dassey, Language Impairments, and Judicial Ignorance to discuss the indefensible misconduct of Len Kachinsky and how Miranda intersects with juveniles with speech and language impairments like Brendan Dassey.

To read the analysis: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3379727

The Amici: False Promises of Youth

The Amici: False Promises of Youth

March 21, 2021

“Because we could all watch it and we could see it and we could see that slow transformation from no to yes, it just seemed to typify in a way everything that is wrong with police interrogation of children in this country,” said Professor Marsha Levick.

As Brendan Dassey’s case hurled through the federal appellate court system, a chorus of eminent voices joined the fight for justice as a day of reckoning with the United States Supreme Court loomed. Battling false promises of special care and the immovable stain of judicial ignorance, a coalition of the country’s brightest minds including The Juvenile Law Center staged a learned intervention. In this episode, I discuss Brendan, the amicus journey, juvenile law decisions that have reshaped the landscape of juvenile justice in the US, and the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child with Professor Marsha Levick, Chief Legal Officer for the Juvenile Law Center.  

The Defender: Between Disparity and Despair

The Defender: Between Disparity and Despair

March 8, 2021

How culpable was the media in the wrongful conviction of Brendan Dassey? Did the infamous March 2nd press conference directed by DA Kratz prejudice, not just a potential jury pool but the entire state of Wisconsin? Destroying Brendan Dassey’s presumption of innocence with every word uttered Kratz tightened the shackles on young Brendan’s wrists and ankles as future fact finders and the local community recoiled in horror. With his freedom ebbing away Brendan grappled with his lack of comprehension and apathetic legal representation as he embarked on the fight for his life.

In this installment of the Sixth Hour, we join Dean Strang, 2007 trial counsel for Steven Avery in the courtrooms of Wisconsin for a masterclass in the humane.

The Suppression: Nine Steps to Self-Incrimination

The Suppression: Nine Steps to Self-Incrimination

February 21, 2021

The trial judge says, “so Miranda warnings are not an issue, so, mirandizing is not an issue, and neither is the custodial or non-custodial … okay moving on.” Now it’s in the record, he has sealed the fate. Brendan has had some amazing attorneys work on his case, but I don’t care how good they are that single interchange made their job almost insurmountable, says Dean Brian Gallini.

In the first episode of season two, Dean Brian Gallini of Willamette University College of Law, a leading scholar in criminal law and procedure takes us on a journey deep into the weeds of the errors at the heart of Brendan Dassey’s wrongful conviction. From Miranda to REID, to ineffective assistance of counsel and the irreversible failings of Kachinsky. Listen in as Dean Gallini brings Brendan Dassey into the classroom in his course Unmaking a Murderer where he profiles Brendan’s case to help inform the next generation of defense attorneys. 

Trailer: Season Two

Trailer: Season Two

February 14, 2021

This is the story of the wrongful conviction of Brendan Dassey. Confined to a system that provides little more than a modicum of due process for the children caught in the ebb and flow of flawed investigations, judicial ignorance, and spurious interrogation techniques, Brendan readies himself for his 15th year of wrongful incarceration as COVID-19 becomes another prong to the cruel and unusual punishment he continues to endure. Join me for season two where once again I step back in time to explore and revisit the influences at the heart of this profound miscarriage of justice.

The Rising: When Innocence is Irrelevant

The Rising: When Innocence is Irrelevant

August 31, 2020

Was it small-town judicial ignorance or a deceptive ploy to dupe the jury? A jury fattened on media soundbites, unethical press conferences, social bias, and pizza. There was conveniently an absence of expert testimony, and a very special prosecutor indeed! But Brendan's story can be changed, his path forward rewritten. The fight for justice and freedom must continue because the truth alone will not bring Brendan home. 

The Absolution: An absence of grace

The Absolution: An absence of grace

August 9, 2020

"In a case where the person is genuinely innocent, it's not mercy it's straight-up justice. In a case like Brendan's, you can make the case for his release either on mercy or justice," shares Professor Mark Osler.

October 2nd, 2019, Brendan Dassey's legal team filed a petition for clemency with Governor Tony Evers to grant Brendan a pardon or commute his sentence to time served. A coalition of 250 voices signed an open letter supporting the petition, among them Professor Osler, a former federal prosecutor, a law professor, and a national expert on clemency. Professor Osler joins the Sixth Hour to discuss clemency in a modern world, political timidity, and why Brendan Dassey deserves relief from a wrongful conviction via an executive grant of clemency. 

The Defendant: Brendan and the Bell Curve

The Defendant: Brendan and the Bell Curve

July 26, 2020

"We are so cruel, where we pretend to care so deeply about the rule of law - that we let this go through. That somewhere there wasn't a responsible adult saying that's enough, that is enough," exclaims Professor Michele LaVigne. A distinguished clinical professor of law, a leader in the law and co-author of Under the Hood: Brendan Dassey, Language Impairments, and Judicial Ignorance. Professor Lavigne joins the Sixth Hour to peel back the layers of Brendan's disabilities and calls into question the legitimacy of the criminal justice system and the undisciplined behaviour of law enforcement when dealing with a child with obvious cognitive challenges including pronounced speech and language impairments. 

The Defence: “Inexcusable”

The Defence: “Inexcusable”

July 12, 2020

"He believes you did it, Brendan," said Brendan's mother Barb. Brendan Dassey knew nothing of his Sixth Amendment right to effective counsel or that it should entail zealous advocacy - all Brendan knew was that his attorney Len Kachinsky thought him guilty ... and liked cats. Orchestrating his own downfall as he tried to turn Brendan as states witness, Kachinsky was removed and replaced by the flawed Fremgen and Edelstein. From colluding with the prosecution to a damaging suggestibility defence to Strickland and Sullivan, Wisconsin defence attorney and author, Michael Cicchini joins the Sixth Hour to unpack the legal complexity involved in the defence of Brendan Dassey. 

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