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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
We all have a breaking point. However, for 16-year-old Brendan Dassey, all that was needed was praise, feigned parental concern, and susceptibility to an interrogation technique used to elicit confessions from seasoned adult criminals. The mix was devastating for Brendan. As the first false confession expert to testify on Brendan's behalf in 2010, Dr. Richard Leo joins the Sixth Hour to illustrate the errors inherent in the March 1st statement that formed the singular piece of evidence used by the state of Wisconsin to wrongfully convict Brendan Dassey.
"Let's stop lying, especially to kids in our interrogations and interviews. It seems so contradictory that we would lie to get to the truth," says Dave Thompson, Partner and VP of Operations for Wicklander Zulawski. Dave joins the Sixth Hour to unpack the interrogations leading up to and including, the March 1st statement that sets in motion the wrongful conviction of Brendan Dassey.
This is the story of the wrongful conviction of Brendan Dassey. When Brendan Dassey uttered “I’m really stupid Mum, I can’t help it” this was not the failure of a vulnerable teenager but the exposure of the systemic failings of Wisconsin’s criminal justice system. This season join me as I step back into Manitowoc 2005 and explore and re-examine the factors at the heart of this profound miscarriage of justice.