Prosecutors Sound Alarm on Coercive Juvenile Interrogation
  • Mar 27, 2018

On March 26, The Constitution Project at the Project On Government Oversight filed an amicus brief of over 60 current and former state and federal prosecutors urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal from Brendan Dassey.  Dassey, whose conviction was chronicled in the Netflix series “Making a Murderer,” was an intellectually-disabled 16-year-old when he confessed to the murder of Teresa Halbach after a lengthy and coercive  interrogation by investigators. The confession was the centerpiece of the prosecution’s case against Dassey.

Because this case raises significant concerns about the fairness and reliability of our justice system,  current and former prosecutors joined our brief urging the court to review Dassey’s case, in order to ensure that interrogations of young people do not lead to false confessions.

The director of The Constitution Project at POGO, Sarah Turberville, said of the brief:

“This brief of over 60 federal and state prosecutors is only a small part of a surge of support among public safety officials—who know well the dangers posed by false confessions—calling on the Supreme Court to ensure that we don’t see miscarriages of justice like Brendan Dassey’s again. 

Many Americans watched the confession of this young, vulnerable person—after hours of coercive interrogation techniques—and without question, it has undermined the public’s faith in the integrity of our justice system.”

TCP’s brief is joined by several other friends of the court encouraging the Supreme Court to hear the case, including the Innocence Project, experts on police interrogations, juvenile justice and mental health organizations, and law professors.

Dassey is represented by former U.S. Solicitor General Seth Waxman.  The Constitution Project at POGO is grateful for the pro bono assistance of the lawyers at Arnold & Porter for their tremendous assistance in drafting the brief on behalf of the distinguished amici.

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