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b. Confessions/self-incrim.

The 7th Circuit: Making a mess of confession law

Dassey v. Dittman, 2017 WL 6154050, (7th Cir. 12/8/17) This is the decision Making a Murderer watchers have been waiting for. Critics and ivory tower dwellers will celebrate the result (a 4-3 win for the prosecution) but also the concise, dispassionate exposition of the law on involuntary confessions and its application to a hypothetical Brendan Dassey–someone… Read More


Brendan Dassey v. Michael A. Dittman, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals No. 16-3397, 2017 WL 2683893, 6/22/17, affirming Dassey v. Pittman, 201 F.Supp.3d 963 (E.D. Wis. 2016). Over a dissent, the Seventh Circuit holds that the Wisconsin court of appeals unreasonably applied clearly established federal law when they decided that Brendan Dassey voluntarily confessed to being involved with Steven… Read More


Francisco Carrion v. Kim Butler, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals No. 14-3241, 2016 WL 4537374, 8/31/16 Carrion’s habeas petition made the novel claim that his confession was involuntary because of the fact it was translated by the investigating detective. You won’t be surprised to learn that the federal courts rejected his claim. At the time he was… Read More


Brendan Dassey conviction overturned

Brendan Dassey v. Michael A. Dittmann, U.S. District Court (E.D. Wis.) No. 14-CV-1310, 2016 WL 4257386, 8/12/16 Brendan Dassey was charged with homicide and sexual assault after confessing to being involved in the murder of Teresa Halbach along with his uncle, Steven Avery. He challenged his confession, arguing it was involuntary, but the trial court and court of appeals… Read More


Randy White v. Robert Keith Woodall, USSC No. 12-794, 4/23/14, reversing and remanding Woodall v. Simpson, 685 F.3d 574 (6th Cir. 2012); case activity It’s getting harder and harder to win a habeas case.  Woodall requested an instruction forbidding jurors from drawing adverse inferences from his decision to not testify during the penalty phase of… Read More


Questions presented: 1. Whether the Sixth Circuit violated 28 U.S.C. §2254(d)(1) by granting habeas relief on the trial court’s failure to provide a no adverse inference instruction even though this Court has not “clearly established” that such an instruction is required in a capital penalty phase when a non-testifying defendant has pled guilty to the crimes… Read More


seventh circuit decision (html) (90-page pdf download: here), granting habeas relief in 904 N.E.2d 1077 (Ill. App. 2009) A significant decision in several respects – not least, attorney performance – that a summary post cannot hope to capture, save broad highlights. Executive summary: Harris was convicted of killing her 4-year-old son Jaquari, against a defense of accidental death (self-strangulation with an… Read More


seventh circuit decision Habeas Review – Confessions – Voluntariness  Given the deferential nature of habeas review, the state court reasonably determined that a 16-year-old’s confession after 55 hours of interrogation was voluntary: Particularly in light of the highly deferential standard due to the state court, we have no reason to doubt that it took into account all… Read More