After listening to hours of Brendan Dassey’s interrogations, multiple times, there are many issues to highlight but there is one segment among them that plays on repeat in my mind. Hearing Brendan’s curious and genuine concern if he is going to get back to “6th hour” in school after just “confessing” to a violent rape and homicide. Clearly, Brendan had no idea that his life was about to take a drastic turn based off of what he just discussed with investigators. He had faith in the system, a belief that authority figures wouldn’t steer him wrong.
The power of influence that words and circumstances can have on a person during an interview or interrogation is vastly underestimated. While investigators need the appropriate tools to obtain the truth in the search for justice, often there are drastic missteps putting undue pressure on a confession. “Death by a thousand cuts” as stated by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is a perfect description of the psychological impact that the interrogations had on Brendan.
Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates (WZ) is proud to have supported Brendan Dassey and his advocates in the hopes to show the court that the interrogations he underwent were not only coercive and involuntarily – but also a representation of the need for further education when interviewing juveniles or those with any mental capacity deficiencies.
Although SCOTUS has denied Brendan’s request, we still believe that it is essential to continue to advocate for justice in this case in whatever means may be possible. WZ has, and will continue to, utilize clips from the interrogations of Brendan to educate law enforcement on the risks of improper techniques as it relates to juveniles or subjects of any age. Understanding the dangers of implicit promises of leniency, lack of representation and fact-feeding resulting in a contaminated confession are all key elements of Brendan’s case that are shared in our training program.
We hope that with continued education and evolution of interview techniques that investigators will be equipped with the appropriate tools to obtain the truth and reliable information. Although Brendan’s case is only one of many, we can’t forget that he is still incarcerated waiting on a chance for justice to find a way.
We would like to thank all of the partners and advocates that are supporting Brendan, and those that have assisted WZ through Amicus Briefs including the Center on Wrongful Conviction of Youth, the Juvenile Law Center, and Jenner & Block as well as the many co-authors on our briefs. We will continue to be an advocate for the truth through our platform of educating investigators, academia and legal professionals on interviewing methodologies as well as the risks and dangers of improper techniques.
For more information on our efforts to educate on false confessions please visit w-z.com/truth