Skip to Content

Justice Failed Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey

The following links are all to articles I wrote for the Gazette Review.

When, in 1985, Denis Vogel failed to pursue alternate leads to a violent crime, he left a criminal free in his county, an abject failure of duty.

When Andrew Colburn was instructed to ignore information which could have led to Steven Avery’s exoneration, his department failed.

When Steven Avery was viewed as the only possible suspect in Teresa Halbach’s disappearance, the Sheriff’s Office failed again.

When 16-year-old mentally handicapped Brendan Dassey was questioned at length based on conjecture put forth by a 12 year old, the District Attorney and Department of Justice failed.

When James Lenk was found to be having a critical role in the physical investigation of Steven Avery, despite an ongoing civil suit, he failed. When he inappropriately handled a crime scene, he failed.

When Michael O’Kelly lied to a retarded child to get him to confess to a crime pointedly against the best interest of the defense team which had hired O’Kelly, O’Kelly and the defense failed in their duties to offer loyal counsel.

When Judge Patrick Willis disallowed the presentation of third party liability, preventing Steven Avery’s defense from offering any coherent narrative, he failed in his role as adjudicator.

Many of these may have been honest mistakes of emotionalism, but that does not negate the standard at which public servants are meant to hold themselves. Most evidently egregious are the behaviors of Len Kachinsky and Judge Fox.

When Len Kachinsky hired Michael O’Kelly and approved the use of that form (see articles), it is a clear demonstration of ineffective and disloyal counsel. While Kachinsky has claimed he would seek a guilty plea and argue Dassey’s lack of culpability due to mental issues, the form completely negates any argument about culpability Kachinksy could have put forth. Put simply, Kachinksy, through ignorance or malice, sold out his client.

My final article on the topic which argues against another man’s presumption of innocence, highlights, albeit in passing, the most clear cut example of judicial misconduct.

Judge Jerome Fox, who presided over the trial against Brendan Dassey for the murder of Teresa Halbach, had previously worked for a firm which had represented Scott Tadych, who at the time of the trial was Brendan Dassey’s stepfather. This is a clear conflict of interest, and yet Judge Fox did not recuse himself.

With these arguments against both Dassey’s defense and adjudicator, it should be clear that regardless of guilt, Brendan Dassey did not get a fair trial, and certainly not one which legitimately proved beyond reasonable doubt that he was guilty.

That doesn’t sound much like a bombshell, does it? I don’t know who killed Teresa Halbach, or even that Avery is innocent. I’m sorry, but real cases aren’t tidy like that.

The best I can do is argue a few concrete reasons why Brendan Dassey may deserve to get that appeal, and so that’s what I plan to do. This is the last article I’m probably going to write about this case, at least for a bit, but as I said in an earlier status, I’ll be talking to people who are helping with Dassey’s defense next week.

Editorial Information

Change Log

<2016-01-10 Sun>: Created as Facebook post

<2018-11-05 Mon>: Added to Personal Record

Editorial and License Information

My name is emsenn and I wrote this essay for the benefit of the commons. To the extent possible under law, I have waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to it. If you're viewing it on a remote server, you're encouraged to download your own copy. Essays like this are made possible with financial support from readers like you. Thank you. To read more of my work and to learn more about me, visit