As published by Yahoo
Steven A. Drizin, an assistant dean at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law who has made headlines for his representation of “Making a Murderer’s” Brendan Dassey, spoke to students and faculty members at The John Marshall Law School about false confessions and coercion on September 22.
Focusing his presentation on the problem of false confessions, Drizin said he believes Brendan Dassey was coerced by police officers into giving a false confession, which led to his wrongful conviction. Drizin also commented on how common false confessions are. In his 15 years of research, he has personally encountered hundreds.
“Many police officers believe they can detect deception,” Drizin said. “They are trained to believe they are human lie detectors, but in reality most people cannot tell when people are lying, especially when they are in front of police officers and tend to act nervous. Plus, just because someone lies about something during an interrogation does not mean they are guilty of the crime.”
“Making a Murderer” is a popular Netflix documentary series, which follows the story of Steven Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, who were convicted of murdering a photographer named Teresa Halbach. Since the investigation, many have speculated whether or not Steven Avery was set up by the Manitowoc County police department and if his nephew Brendan Dassey was coerced into giving a false confession.
This summer, a federal judge in Wisconsin overturned Brendan Dassey’s murder conviction, calling into question the manner in which his confession was obtained and leaving it up to the state to decide whether to retry or release him. On September 9, the state appealed the decision. Drizin will represent Brendan Dassey before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, along with his former student and now colleague Laura Nirider.
Drizin is an assistant dean of the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. Before becoming Assistant Dean, Drizin served as the Legal Director for the Clinic’s Center on Wrongful Convictions. He first began working with the Wisconsin legal system in 2005 when he successfully pushed for the state to adopt a rule requiring police to electronically record juvenile interrogations. Brendan Dassey’s interrogation was one of the first videotaped interrogations after the law went into effect. Drizin has been representing Brendan Dassey in his post-conviction litigation.