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  • Writer's pictureTracy Keogh

Brendan Dassey Seeks ‘Special Care’ with US Supreme Court Review

February 20th, 2018, Brendan Dassey filed a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, a stark reminder to those litigating within the juvenile justice arena that if granted, it will be the first time in almost forty years, that the court will agree to hear a juvenile confession case of this type.

In a press release from the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law we learned of the addition of former US Solicitor General, Seth Waxman and his faction of esteemed Supreme Court litigators, to Brendan’s team of attorneys, who have navigated this legal labyrinth via the state and federal court system for over 11 years.

The early Spring of 2006 and the egregious misrepresentation by Len Kachinsky a seemingly ineradicable stain, the addition of Mr Waxman and his team casts an eminent shadow over the failings that beset the young and suggestible Dassey in his original search for advocacy. The loneliness of the indigent and vulnerable stymied by a burgeoning movement of support for Brendan in his fight for justice and freedom, that first began in August 2007 (Steven Drizin, Laura Nirider, Robert Dvorak).

Giving prominence to juveniles, those with mental limitations and eliminating the chasm of disadvantage, the Dassey petition concerns itself not only with Brendan’s injustice, but issues of disparity across the state and federal courts in their interpretation and application of Supreme Court precedence in the juvenile arena. With landmark Supreme Court decisions traversing the age from In re Gault to JDB v. North Carolina the misapplication or complete disregard of Supreme Court instructions concerning confessions from intellectually challenged juveniles is long overdue for judicial review.

“That which would leave a man cold and unimpressed can overawe and overwhelm a lad in his early teens.” “We cannot believe that a lad of tender years is a match for the police in such a contest. He needs counsel and support if he is not to become the victim first of fear, then of panic”

This from the plurality of the Haley court. Seventy years on, Dassey was denied by a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals majority who discounted the instructions of Supreme Court findings in cases addressing voluntariness, special care and the inclusive totality-of-the-circumstances test. Over fifty years ago in Gallegos v. Colorado SCOTUS established that juveniles being questioned by law enforcement required “protection” in light of their “unequal footing” with interrogators. Seemingly the en banc majority dictum, harbours errors oft found in prelaw 101.

While we await the state of Wisconsin’s brief in opposition (due May 10th) a Drizin induced ‘tsunami’ of amicus briefs converged, with a total of 6 separate briefs filed, representing;

“60 current and former prosecutors including 17 former US Attorneys, 6 former State Attorney Generals, nearly a dozen former division or section chiefs, as well as dozens of former front line Assistant United States Attorneys and state prosecutors! All seeking justice for BD” – Steven Drizin

This is not only a show of support for Brendan, this is a movement with the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and a litany of related professional organisations mobilised in support of the acknowledgement and solidification of existing Supreme Court case law in the juvenile space. Dassey v. Dittman 17-1172 is the fight to eradicate splits in the circuits and enforce existing case law. To quote Marsha Levick of the Juvenile Law Center “no-one is asking the Supreme Court to make new laws (contrary to Judge Sykes, but that’s another therapy session) but to remind states of laws they have already articulated.”

Such an immense and exemplary torrent of support amongst the legal community reflects the long-held belief that Brendan’s confession was not only coerced and contaminated, but indubitably false. With Brendan’s team having a reply brief due post May 10th, we look towards the merits stage with unwavering belief that justice will finally prevail. Free Brendan Dassey.

Please find links to Amicus here:

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