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State: US Supreme Court should not review ‘Making a Murderer’ case

Brendan Dassey (PHOTO: WI DOC via WLUK)

MADISON — Wisconsin Department of Justice attorneys are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reject a request to review the conviction of an inmate featured in the “Making a Murderer” documentary series.

Brendan Dassey’s attorneys have argued for years that investigators coerced him into confessing that he helped his uncle, Steven Avery, rape and kill photographer Teresa Halbach in 2005. Dassey was 16 at the time.

A federal judge overturned Dassey’s conviction in 2016 but a federal appeals court reinstated the conviction in December. Dassey’s attorneys asked the Supreme Court in February to review the case.

State Justice Department attorneys argue in briefs filed Thursday that investigators used standard techniques and that Dassey confessed because he had a guilty conscience. They also said they don’t think the case is an appropriate venue for weighing changes to juvenile interrogation law.

Attorney General Brad Schimel wrote the following:

“This Court may, someday, adopt the restrictive approach to juvenile confessions that Petitioner and his amici favor, concluding that the cost in “terms of justice” that troubled Judge Hamilton is worth imposing because juvenile interrogations are inherently coercive absent truly extraordinary precautions. Or this Court may mandate some more incremental change to its juvenile-interrogation case law, reflecting a balance between the need to investigate crime and limiting techniques that research has revealed to be more problematic than previously thought. This Court may even eventually conclude that some of the techniques that Petitioner’s amici criticize should no longer be permitted in juvenile cases. Precisely be-cause these choices are so consequential and sensitive, this Court should not grapple with them in the context of AEDPA review, where the only proper question is whether the state court unreasonably applied this Court’s current “clearly established” law.”