We will know in less than a month whether the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case of Making a Murderer subject Brendan Dassey.
The justices of the court will consider Dassey’s request for review, called a petition of certiorari, at a scheduled case conference on Thursday, June 14th. According to Supreme Court rules, the decision of whether or not the justices will accept the petition is generally announced at 9:30 a.m. on the Monday following the conference. In this case, that date is Monday, June 18th. (Mark your calendars.)
Separate Wisconsin juries convicted Dassey and his uncle Steven Avery of the 2005 murder of freelance photographer Teresa Halbach on a family-owned junkyard where Avery and Dassey lived. Both Dassey and Avery failed to successfully appeal their cases in state courts. Dassey turned to the federal courts to review whether his 2006 confession was fed to him by investigators. Dassey’s attorneys theorize that Dassey went along with suggestions of involvement brought up by his interrogators because he thought they would let him go back to school, rather than arrest him and charge him with murder. Dassey is of below-average intelligence and could easily have been pushed around, his attorneys have argued. They have argued that many of the details supplied by Dassey are not corroborated by physical evidence and that he probably made them up in an effort to please the authorities.
Attorneys for Dassey scored a series of wins in federal district court and in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. However, a subsequent review by a full panel of judges on the 7th Circuit resulted in a decision that Dassey’s confession was voluntary. Therefore, the full panel ruled that Dassey’s trial judge properly admitted his confession at trial.
If the U.S. Supreme Court fails to take the case, the decision of the full panel of judges on the 7th Circuit will stand, and Dassey will remain imprisoned.
Years after the original trials wrapped up, the cases of Avery and Dassey became internationally famous through the hit Netflix film Making a Murderer.
[Image via the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.]