U.S. Seventh Circuit - The FindLaw 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

December 2017 News

Court: Brendan Dassey's 'Making a Murderer' Confession Was Voluntary

If the U.S.Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals were a trial court, Brendan Dassey would be a free man now.

The appeals court split over the case, voting 4-3 that Dassey's murder confession was voluntary. The dissent said the 16-year-old's confession came through a "perfect storm" of interrogations.

"No reasonable state court, knowing what we now know about coercive interrogation techniques and viewing Dassey's interrogation in light of his age, intellectual deficits, and manipulability, could possibly have concluded that Dassey's confession was voluntarily given," Judge Illena Rovner wrote in Dassey v. Dittmann.

Judge David Hamilton of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has some rather novel advice for lawyers that would likely make his former colleague, Judge Posner, smile ear to ear: Pick up the phone and call (or email) opposing counsel before filing your motion with the court, especially those administrative case management motions.

While this cold-blooded calling out in an appellate in-chambers opinion was phrased much more eloquently, in short, Judge Hamilton explains that it is much easier for the court to rule on case management motions if the moving party certifies that the opposing party does not oppose the motion. Rather than waiting for the requisite time for an opposing party to file an opposition to expire, if a court knows the other side doesn't oppose the motion, it can grant it sooner.