On Thursday, the Supreme Court will consider whether to hear the case of Brendan Dassey in a potential make or break moment for the Making A Murderer subject. Dassey was just 16 years old when he was arrested and convicted for the murder of Teresa Halbach alongside his uncle Steven Avery. For the past 12 years, his case has been slowly making its way through numerous appeal courts as defense lawyers argued that a confession he gave was coerced by Calumet County detectives.
The Supreme Court was originally set to discuss the case on June 14th but rescheduled the case for conference on June 21st. It takes four of the justices agreeing to hear the case for it to move forward to oral arguments. Otherwise, the previous 7th Circuit ruling upholding the confession as valid stands, effectively ending Dassey’s chances of being released from prison. If his conviction isn’t overturned, Dassey won’t be eligible for parole until 2048.
While there’s a significant pile of evidence connecting Brendan’s uncle Steven Avery to Teresa Halbach’s murder, the case against Dassey has always been much thinner. In one of their most recent filings to the Supreme Court, his attorneys argued that other than the confession, “no forensic or other direct evidence linked Dassey to the crimes.” His team has been focusing their appeals on the legitimacy of the confession, noting Brendan’s age, low IQ, and repeated assurances from his interrogators that he wouldn’t be in trouble if he gave them the answers they wanted.
“The investigators made my skin crawl watching this video,” Judge Diane Wood said when the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case back in September of 2017. “He is obviously racking his brain about how he can answer in a way they will like.”
Unfortunately for Dassey, four of the seven judges on the Seventh Circuit ruled that Dassey’s treatment during the confession didn’t meet the high standards required for habeas corpus relief, leading us to where we are now.
Statistically speaking, the odds aren’t looking great for Brendan as the Supreme Court doesn’t hear many cases, but the nature of the law in question could be a factor in his favor, for the Supreme Court hasn’t handled a case regarding “juvenile voluntariness” since 1979. Several large and respected organizations like the Juvenile Law Center and the American Psychological Association filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of Dassey’s case being heard, and his lawyer Laura Nirider literally wrote the book on coerced juvenile confessions before preparing her SCOTUS briefs.
Whatever the results of the The Supreme Court’s conference is, the decision on Dassey’s fate is set to be released on Monday June 25th at 9:30AM.