The words ‘Happy Birthday Brendan’ seemed cavernous, as thousands painted social media platforms with wishes of support. It was Brendan’s 28th birthday, and it passed hurriedly, attached to the yearning of the Dassey army scattered across the globe. But Brendan couldn’t read them, and I could not reconcile the word ‘happy’ with the reality of Brendan’s 12th consecutive birthday spent in an 8 x 4 in Portage, Wisconsin.
Brendan had been a boy, arcing into his 16th birthday when he was first questioned on November 6th, 2005 in Crivitz, Northern Wisconsin. Harbouring the limitations of a borderline IQ, Brendan Dassey’s descent into a fabricated nightmare at the hands of dogged law enforcement and a legal system that had repeatedly failed to navigate juvenile justice reform, conspired in the most horrendous of fusion – the annals of coerced and false confessions laid before him, Brendan’s seemingly innocuous autobiography had been hijacked in the most abhorrent of ways.
In what would herald the first in a series of coaching interrogations, Brendan’s story was set to be co-authored by Detective Mark Wiegert and Special Agent Tom Fassbender who reminded Brendan “yeah, we're cops, we're investigators and stuff like that, but I'm not right now. I'm a father that has a kid your age too. I wanna be here for you.” In a textbook coerced confession, Wiegert and Fassbender promised lenience and lied – they were never there for Brendan.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
History will speak to the abortive Kachinsky who has forever secured a citation link alongside the assistance of counsel clause of the sixth amendment of the United States and the macabre cast of characters who parlayed a child into a life sentence at the age of 16.
On July 7th, 2004, the Wisconsin Supreme Court adopted a per se ruling requiring the state of Wisconsin to electronically (audio or video) record all juvenile interrogations – with the recording of Brendan’s March 1st interrogation (the fourth in a 48-hour period) the first since the ruling was adopted. It would be three years later that an author of an Amicus Brief filed in that landmark case (State v Jerrell CJ) would become Brendan’s post litigation defence counsel - Professor Steven Drizin. Brendan’s reality was a non-sensical assault on our sense of decency and justice. The disparity heartbreakingly evident. Brendan has not been home since that day.
False Promises of Leniency
It is now 4252 days since Brendan asked, “is it only for one day?” 435 days since Judge Duffin’s considered grant of Habeas relief and 121 days have idled by since the majority panel decision in the 7th Circuit Court of Chicago. Stating in an emphatic opinion authored by Judge Ilana Rovner that “no reasonable court could have any confidence that Dassey’s confession was voluntary” and cited “the leading, the fact-feeding, the false promises, the manipulation of Dassey's desire to please" as among many factors that cast the confession as involuntary.
As we clamour through past opinions and videos to garner a sense of sway, Brendan, his family and the thousands of generous and committed supporters wait anxiously for the revisited ruling from the full panel (en banc) of the 7th Circuit.
25 days have elapsed since Chief Judge Wood stated “quite a number of courts have found you have a real problem with this, you got the district court, magistrate judge and you’ve got the panel in this case so I don’t know that this is a slam dunk?” 25 days since Luke Berg once again tried the emotive path rather than the fact bound, trying to empathise with “I want to go back to the memories of Teresa that I was mentioning before, ah because I think that’s one of the primary evidences that that his confession was voluntary” – memories as a primary evidence? Pass me the brain fingerprinting.
As Tom Petty sang "the waiting is the hardest part." Your honour we ask this court to grant the district courts grant of habeas relief.
Free Brendan Dassey - the Truth
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