By now you’ve probably heard that a federal judge has overturned Brendan Dassey’s conviction. Dassey will be released from prison, unless within 90 days of the date of the judge’s decision, the state of Wisconsin initiates proceedings to re-try him. However, you might not know much about the two attorneys who are behind this momentous court decision. Northwestern University Law professors Steven Drizin (’86) and Laura Nirider (’08) have served as Dassey’s attorneys throughout the appellate process. Nirider wrote the petition for writ of habeas corpus that led to Dassey’s conviction being thrown out.
In 2007, Dassey was convicted of murdering freelance photographer Teresa Halbach. His videotaped confession played a pivotal role in his conviction even though Dassey later recanted. However, in a decision released late Friday afternoon, federal Judge William Duffin found the confession “involuntary” under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.
Here is a video of presentation posted May 9, 2016 where the two attorneys discuss the work on the case and explain why Dassey’s confession was false:
Steven Drizin is a clinical professor of law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law where he has been on the faculty since 1991. He is also the assistant dean of the Bluhm Legal Clinic. He served as the legal director of the clinic’s renowned Center on Wrongful Convictions from March 2005 to September 2013. At the center, Professor Drizin’s research interests involve the study of false confessions, and his policy work focuses on supporting efforts around the country to require law enforcement agencies to electronically record custodial interrogations.
Laura Nirider is a clinical assistant professor of law and co-director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth (CWCY) at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in Chicago. Nirider represents individuals who were wrongfully convicted of crimes when they were children or teenagers. Her clients have included Brendan Dassey, whose case was profiled in the Netflix Global series “Making a Murderer,” and Damien Echols of the West Memphis Three, whose case was profiled in the documentary “West of Memphis.”