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Criminal Law Keyed to Osler
Dassey v. Dittmann
Citation:877 F. 3d 297 (7th Cir. 2017) (en banc)
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*Case Brief Anatomy includes: Brief Prologue, Complete Case Brief, Brief Epilogue
- The Brief Prologue provides necessary case brief introductory information and includes:
- Topic: Identifies the topic of law and where this case fits within your course outline.
- Parties: Identifies the cast of characters involved in the case.
- Procedural Posture & History: Shares the case history with how lower courts have ruled on the matter.
- Case Key Terms, Acts, Doctrines, etc.: A case specific Legal Term Dictionary.
- Case Doctrines, Acts, Statutes, Amendments and Treatises: Identifies and Defines Legal Authority used in this case.
- The Case Brief is the complete case summarized and authored in the traditional Law School I.R.A.C. format. The Pro case brief includes:
- Brief Facts: A Synopsis of the Facts of the case.
- Rule of Law: Identifies the Legal Principle the Court used in deciding the case.
- Facts: What are the factual circumstances that gave rise to the civil or criminal case? What is the relationship of the Parties that are involved in the case. Review the Facts of this case here:
October 31, 2005 Teresa Hallbach was murdered. She owned a photography business and her last appointment was on October 31st at Avery’s Auto Savage, to photograph a van for an advertisement for Steven Avery. A few days later a missing persons report was filed, her car was found at the salvage yard with blood stains in the interior, and her charred remains were found in a burn pit on the property along with shell casings on Avery’s garage floor.
In early November, police investigated Avery’s relatives, including his nephew, defendant Brendan Dassey. At this interview defendant said he saw Ms. Hallbach taking photos in the salvage yard on October 31st but denied anything else and provided no other information. Several months later, police learned that the defendant, a 16-year old with intellectual disability, was crying uncontrollably and lost 40 pounds. The police brought Dassey back in three times in February of 2006 for interviews. It then became clear he knew more about the murder. During those interviews, Dassey admitted that his uncle asked him to help him with a bonfire, and saw human remains in the pit but that his uncle threatened to hurt him if he told police. Defendant also admitted to helping clean his uncle’s garage but that was it.
On March 1st, investigators pulled defendant out of school, with his mother’s permission, to investigate him. They brought the defendant into a “soft” interview room that had couches and were more comfortable than typical interview rooms. He was offered food and rink, bathroom breaks, and time to rest. Officers never raised their voice or stopped him for leaving the room. Officers asked him to tell the truth, that they had his best interests, and it was okay to tell them something that would make him look bad. But investigators did not promise leniency.
During this three-hour long interview, defendant stated that he heard a woman screaming from his uncle’s trailer when he went to get the mail on October 31st, so he walked over and knocked on Avery’s door. He entered and saw Teresa alive, naked, and handcuffed to Avery’s bed. Defendant claimed he had a soda while his uncle raped her. Then he watched television with his uncle while she remained handcuffed. Defendant then said he helped his uncle subdue and kill Teresa and move her to the garage. He gave several different explanations as to how she was killed. His confession was unreliable during this part and he only mentioned her being shot when investigators told him she was shot. There were times where investigators would suggest a false statement, to see if he would agree and he did not. One example was regarding a tattoo on Ms. Hallbach’s stomach; officers stated there was a tattoo and the defendant responded that there was not and if there was he never saw it. The victim did not have a tattoo on her stomach. At one point during the investigation defendant asked when the interview would be over because he had a presentation during 6th period.
Based on this documentation, the state court judge found this confession to be voluntary.
- Issue(s): Lists the Questions of Law that are raised by the Facts of the case.
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- Policy: Identifies the Policy if any that has been established by the case.
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