‘Making a Murderer’ Defense Attorney Charged with Felony Stalking

Making a Murderer, Netflix, Arrested, Mug Shot, Brendan Dassey

Len Kachinsky, who was for a time the attorney for ‘Making a Murderer’ subject Brendan Dassey, has been criminally charged with one count of felony stalking and two misdemeanors for violating a harassment restraining order. That’s according to an online court docket.

The stalking charge is a Class I felony. The charges for violating a restraining order are misdemeanors.

The charges stem from a series of complaints against Kachinsky from a municipal court clerk. Kachinsky has recently worked as a municipal judge in Fox Crossing, Wisconsin. According to court documents obtained by the Appleton, Wis. Post-Crescent, Kachinsky posted comments about the clerk’s marriage on Facebook, stared at her for 45 minutes while making cat noises, and made the clerk “so uncomfortable that she would make excuses to leave the office.”

“Kachinsky’s behavior towards [the clerk] was getting more bizarre” as time went on, court documents say. The alleged incidents began after Kachinsky returned to work after a long illness.

A criminal complaint against Kachinsky says the clerk told Kachinsky to behave professionally, but he continued to set up purported work meetings where he would instead talk about personal matters. At one point, he asked the clerk to organize a party for him, the complaint says.

Kachinsky also allegedly tried to fire the clerk right before a vacation. She remains employed, however.

The incident which appears to have precipitated Kachinsky’s arrest last week involved the clerk arriving at work to find a poster on Kachinsky’s desk which showed a photo of the village manager and a “#notmetoo” hashtag. She alleges Kachinsky also hung up a copy of the village’s sexual harassment policy — with the word “sexual” highlighted several times — facing her desk.

The issues between the clerk and Kachinsky have previously resulted in a civil complaint and a harassment restraining order. The Wisconsin Judicial Commission filed a complaint against Kachinsky with the state supreme court; that professional conduct complaint is an ongoing matter.

Wisconsin’s stalking statute is quite detailed. Kachinsky is charged with a section of the law which requires all of the following three conditions to be met:

(a) The actor intentionally engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person under the same circumstances to suffer serious emotional distress or to fear bodily injury to or the death of himself or herself or a member of his or her family or household.
(b) The actor knows or should know that at least one of the acts that constitute the course of conduct will cause the specific person to suffer serious emotional distress or place the specific person in reasonable fear of bodily injury to or the death of himself or herself or a member of his or her family or household.
(c) The actor’s acts cause the specific person to suffer serious emotional distress or induce fear in the specific person of bodily injury to or the death of himself or herself or a member of his or her family or household.

The felony stalking charge carries a possible $10,000 fine, a possible prison sentence of up to three and a half years, or both. The misdemeanor charges each carry possible $10,000 fines, a possible nine month prison sentence, or both.

Kachinsky was a defense attorney for Brendan Dassey before being removed from the case for “deficient” performance. He did not face professional discipline for his performance on the case, however. Brendan Dassey and his uncle Steven Avery were featured in the Netflix film ‘Making a Murderer.’ Both Dassey and Avery were convicted in 2007 of killing photographer Teresa Halbach in 2005.

[Mug shot via the Winnebago Co., Wisconsin Jail.]

Aaron Keller is an attorney licensed in two states. He holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. During law school, he completed legal residencies in the Office of the New Hampshire Attorney General and in a local prosecutor’s office. He was employed as a summer associate in the New Hampshire Department of Safety, which manages the state police, and further served as a summer law clerk for a New York trial judge. Before law school, Keller worked for television stations in New York and in the Midwest, mostly as an evening news anchor and investigative reporter. His original reporting on the Wisconsin murder of Teresa Halbach was years later featured in the Netflix film "Making A Murderer."

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