Podcast category: Legal News

Lawyer 2 Lawyer

Inside “Making a Murderer” and the Steven Avery Trial

Update: Brendan Dassey, nephew to Steven Avery, the primary defendant from the “Making a Murderer” series on Netflix had his conviction for murder, rape, and mutilation of a corpse overturned by U.S. Magistrate Judge William E. Duffin of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin last Friday. This episode was recorded shortly before the development.

Back on October 31st of 2005, a young photographer named Teresa Halbach went missing. Teresa’s last meeting had been with Steven Avery, on the grounds of Avery’s Auto Salvage in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. Teresa’s remains were later found on the grounds of Avery’s home and family business. Avery was well known to law enforcement and had previously served a lengthy prison sentence for rape and attempted murder from which he  was later exonerated on DNA evidence.

What transpired inspired the extremely popular Netflix series “Making a Murderer,” directed by Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos. The series spotlights Steven Avery and his quest for justice after claims that he was wrongfully accused in the murder of Teresa Halbach.

In 2005, Steven Avery was arrested for the murder of Teresa Halbach, and was ultimately represented by Wisconsin attorneys, Dean Strang and Jerry Buting. Strang and Buting presented their case and their defense strategy, bringing to light alleged tampering and planting of evidence by police. After a whirlwind of a trial, the verdict came back guilty, sending Steven Avery to jail for life without the possibility of parole. As Steven Avery sits in jail, a new attorney has taken over his case and Steven hopes for a new trial and maybe one day his freedom.

On this special episode of Lawyer 2 Lawyer, host Bob Ambrogi joins Dean Strang, former defense attorney for Steven Avery, and Peter Linton-Smith, a former television news reporter who covered the Avery trials, as they discuss the popular Netflix series, “Making a Murderer.” Dean and Peter  offer inside perspectives and get the latest on Steven Avery and his quest for a new trial and justice under a new attorney.

Dean Strang is a lawyer in Madison, Wisconsin, at the firm Strang Bradley, LLC. He is best known for his work as one of Steven Avery’s trial lawyers, as well as for his first book, “Worse Than the Devil: Anarchists Clarence Darrow, and Justice in a Time of Terror.” Mr. Strang served five years as Wisconsin’s first federal defender and co-founded Strang Bradley, LLC. He is an adjunct professor at Marquette University Law School, the University of Wisconsin Law School, and University of Wisconsin’s Division of Continuing Studies. Mr. Strang is a member of the American Law Institute and serves on several charity boards, including the Wisconsin Innocence Project. His second book will be published in early 2018.

Peter Linton-Smith was a television news reporter for 24 years covering primarily courts (1988-2012). Peter has covered cases ranging from first degree murder, wrongful death, products liability, copyright dispute, employment and labor disputes. Peter has covered Steven Avery, both his civil and criminal case from 2003-2007. Peter is currently employed at Leventhal & Puga in Denver, Colorado.

If you want more on “Making a Murderer,” check out the Defending Brendan Dassey of “Making a Murderer” Planet Lex episode, when Dassey’s appeal attorneys discuss what it was like defending him.

Special thanks to our sponsor, Clio.

Planet Lex: The Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Podcast

Defending Brendan Dassey of “Making a Murderer”

Update: Brendan Dassey, nephew to Steven Avery, the primary defendant from the Making a Murderer series on Netflix had his conviction for murder, rape, and mutilation of a corpse overturned by U.S. Magistrate Judge William E. Duffin of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin last Friday. This episode was recorded shortly before the development.

Many people have become familiar with the trial of Brendan Dassey through the 2015 Netflix television series “Making A Murderer.” His case raises a number of concerns regarding youth interrogations and the confessions.

In the debut episode of Planet Lex, host Dan Rodriguez speaks with Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Clinical Professor of Law Steven Drizin and Clinical Assistant Professor of Law Laura Nirider about youth interrogation, false confessions, and their representation of Brendan Dassey. Steve shares that he was contacted by a friend in the Wisconsin state appellate defenders office to represent Brendan. Because of the Wisconsin appellate process, they had to do two years of intensive investigation before filing their appeal with the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. Laura talks about their petition for a writ of habeas corpus asking the Wisconsin federal court to review Brendan’s interrogation confession, his original legal representation, and the way Wisconsin state courts handled Brendan’s case. They both provide insight on federal laws pertinent to the Dassey case and explain how the 5th Amendment protects all citizens from being coerced into giving a confession. They close the interview with an analysis of Brendan’s defense attorney Len Kachinsky’s duty of loyalty breach and the realities of false confessions that they hope people will take away from their legal work.

Steven Drizin is a clinical professor of law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law where he has been on the faculty since 1991. He is also the assistant dean of the Bluhm Legal Clinic. He served as the legal director of the clinic’s renowned Center on Wrongful Convictions from March 2005 to September 2013. At the center, Professor Drizin’s research interests involve the study of false confessions, and his policy work focuses on supporting efforts around the country to require law enforcement agencies to electronically record custodial interrogations.

Laura Nirider is a clinical assistant professor of law and co-director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth (CWCY) at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Nirider represents individuals who were wrongfully convicted of crimes when they were children or teenagers. Her clients have included Brendan Dassey, whose case was profiled in the Netflix Global series “Making a Murderer,” and Damien Echols of the West Memphis Three, whose case was profiled in the documentary “West of Memphis.”

If you want more “Making a Murderer”, check out the most recent Lawyer 2 Lawyer episode, Inside “Making a Murderer” and the Steven Avery Trial to listen to Dean Strang, Steven Avery’s former defense attorney, and Peter Linton-Smith, who covered the trial, discuss the case and the show.

Planet Lex: The Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Podcast

Sexual Misconduct on Campus

The issue of sexual assault on campuses and how to best combat these incidents is a highly debated topic among legal professionals. How should these crimes be handled and what can colleges do to protect their students?

In this episode of Planet Lex, host Daniel Rodriguez speaks with Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Professor of Law Deborah Tuerkheimer about campus sexual misconduct. Deborah shares that historically universities have not handled issues of sexual assault well and that the significance of the problem is still being assessed as we look at how institutions of higher education respond to these situations. She talks about the 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter issued by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights on how campuses should handle sexual misconduct and provides insight into how the document represents a shift in the way the federal government approached the issue. Deborah explains what Title IX is and how it helped establish that sexual harassment can create a hostile environment. In addition to the civil and criminal systems, she discusses what campuses can do to help those affected by sexual misconduct and why disciplinary responsibilities fall squarely on campuses to ensure that affected students are able to continue their education. Deborah closes the interview with her perspective on what else the federal government can do to bring adequate attention to these issues and the impact that the “Dear Colleague” letter has had on our nation’s campuses.

Deborah Tuerkheimer joined the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law faculty in 2014 after serving as a professor of law at DePaul University since 2009. Professor Tuerkheimer received her undergraduate degree from Harvard College and her JD from Yale. She teaches and writes in the areas of criminal law, evidence, and feminist legal theory. Her book, “Flawed Convictions: ‘Shaken Baby Syndrome’ and the Inertia of Injustice,” was published by Oxford University Press in 2014. She is also a co-author of the casebook “Feminist Jurisprudence: Cases and Materials” and the author of numerous articles on rape and domestic violence. After clerking for Alaska Supreme Court Justice Jay Rabinowitz, she served for five years as an assistant district attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, where she specialized in domestic violence prosecution. Tuerkheimer was elected to the American Law Institute in 2015, an esteemed group of judges, lawyers, and legal scholars dedicated to the development of the law.

ABA Journal: Modern Law Library

Freedom isn’t the end of the story for exonerees

When we hear about the wrongfully convicted, media coverage usually ends with the person being released from prison or reaching a large settlement with the state. But for the exonerated, life goes on–lives for which prison did not prepare them. Often they’re stymied by red tape which keeps them from finding employment or housing. The families they left behind may be almost unrecognizable to them. Technology which is commonplace now—such as cell phones—may have been completely absent when they went to prison.

Journalist Alison Flowers has made the post-prison lives of exonerees the topic of her new book, “Exoneree Diaries: The Fight for Innocence, Independence and Identity.” She profiled four Illinois exonerees in the book, following them for months and years as they adjusted, or failed to adjust, to life outside prison walls. In this episode of the Modern Law Library, she discusses with the ABA Journal’s Lee Rawles the experience of writing the book, the issues facing exonorees, and what efforts have been made to help the wrongfully convicted reconstruct lives for themselves.

On the Road

ABA Annual Meeting 2016: North Carolina Voter and Election Laws After Shelby

This time On the Road at the 2016 ABA Annual Meeting, host Joe Patrice speaks with North Carolina House of Representatives Speaker Pro Tempore Paul Stam about the Post-Shelby Voter and Election Laws panel. Paul states that the panel talked mostly about the North Carolina voter reform resulting from the Shelby County v. Holder case. He explains that the North Carolina voter ID law is virtually identical to one that was approved in Texas a few days ago and wonders why the Department of Justice is taking two different positions in two different circuits. Paul recalls that when they attempted redistricting for Congress, while Section V was still in effect, a U.S. Supreme Court decision said that they had to do majority minority districts if they could. He juxtaposes this decision with the Department of Justice’s later disapproval of their redistricting as a result of a subsequent case to illustrate how difficult redistricting can be with laws changing every 2-3 years. Paul reveals that one of the most disappointing parts of the ruling for him was its reform of their early voting and that under this Fourth Circuit ruling they are going to have to go back to more voting days, but with shorter operating hours (thus making voting less convenient for all voters). He closes the interview with reflections on his decade of service in leadership and a brief discussion of what he has planned for the future.

Representative Paul Stam is currently serving his eighth (and last) term in the North Carolina House of Representatives. He was first elected to that position in 1989 and again in 2003. He has served as the House Republican Leader (2007-2010), the House Majority Leader (2011-2012), and is the Speaker Pro Tem (2013-present).

Thinking Like a Lawyer - Above the Law

Pokémon’s Evolving Legal Landscape

Joe and Elie chat with Drew Rossow of the law office of Gregory M. Gantt in Dayton, Ohio, and author of Gotta Catch… A Lawsuit? about the legal challenges surrounding Pokémon Go. It’s worth noting that technology moves fast, and since recording this episode, Niantic has released updates via Pokemon Go that have begun to address how both players and businesses can “opt out” and “opt into” the game, along with addressing some safety concerns with more interactive disclaimers.

On the Road

ABA Annual Meeting 2016: The Global Immigration Crisis

This time On the Road at the 2016 ABA Annual Meeting, host Joe Patrice speaks with Immigration Law Clinic Associate Director Holly Cooper and Human Rights First President and Chief Executive Elisa Massimino about their panel covering legal issues surrounding the world immigration crisis. Elisa shares that the panel was framed around the concept of a global refugee crisis, which is the largest the world has faced since World War II. She states that the current situation puts huge demands on countries like the United States to provide leadership and that it’s important for us to remember that the crisis itself is less about refugees and more about the failure of governments to live up to their obligations under international law and provide refugees the protection to which they’re entitled. Holly focuses on some of the overlooked issues of our domestic policy and mentions that many Americans are unaware that we’ve seen one of the largest surges of refugees on our borders as well, but from a mostly Central American demographic. She talks about how Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala currently have some of the highest homicide rates of anywhere in the world that isn’t a war zone and emphasizes that our lack of domestic response, stigmatization, and privatization of the detention arena has incentivized the economics of a refugee crisis here in our own country. Both guests discuss how xenophobia can cultivate a climate that promotes radicalization and they close the interview with their thoughts on the importance of facilitating trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities.

Elisa Massimino is president and chief executive officer of Human Rights First. She joined as a staff attorney in 1991 and served as the organization’s Washington Director from 1997 to 2008. Previously, Massimino was a litigator in private practice at the Washington law firm of Hogan & Hartson, where she was pro bono counsel in many human rights cases. She holds a law degree from the University of Michigan and a Master of Arts in philosophy from Johns Hopkins University.

Holly Cooper is the associate director of the Immigration Law Clinic at the University of California, Davis, School of Law. and is a nationally-recognized expert on immigration detention issues and on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. Cooper is a graduate of UC Davis School of Law, where she was on the Board of the King Hall Legal Foundation and an active member of the National Lawyers Guild. She received her B.A. degree in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego. As an undergraduate, she also studied Political Science and Economics at the University of Padua in Italy. She speaks, reads, and writes in both Spanish and Italian.

On the Road

ABA Annual Meeting 2016: Law School and Writing Legal Dramas for Television

This time On the Road at the 2016 ABA Annual Meeting, host Sandy Gallant-Jones speaks with former federal prosecutor, producer, and author Jonathan Shapiro about his work writing legal dramas for television. Jonathan gives a brief synopsis of his legal background as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and talks about the path that led him to become of counsel at the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers. He reminisces about his early career, meeting his wife, Betsy Borns, and selling his first script to writer and producer David E. Kelley. The work of writers, he says, is to use their experience to create new material, and he discusses how this relates to his new book, “Deadly Force,” and his current show, “Goliath.” Jonathan closes the interview with an analysis of the high numbers of alcohol abuse among attorneys and his suggestions on how law schools can better teach students to form cogent persuasive arguments and revitalize the nobility and idealism of the legal profession.

Jonathan Shapiro has spent the last 16 years writing and producing some of television’s most iconic shows, including “The Blacklist,” “The Practice,” “Life” and “Boston Legal.” He has won an Emmy, Peabody, and Humanitas Award and also authored “Liars, Lawyers, and the Art of Storytelling” (ABA Publishing) and the novel “Deadly Force” (Ankerwycke Press). Prior to writing for television, Jonathan spent a decade as a federal prosecutor and as an adjunct law professor at Loyola Law School and the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law. He is a member and the former chairman of the California Commission on Government Economy and Efficiency, as well as the founder and director of the Public Counsel Emergency for Torture Victims. He is a graduate of Harvard University and Oxford University, was a Rhodes Scholar at Oriel College, and received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

On the Road

ABA Annual Meeting 2016: The Militarization of Law Enforcement

After the last year, many if not all Americans are focused on the relationship between law enforcement officials and the public, particularly in communities of color. A panel at the 2016 ABA Annual Meeting addressed the increasing militarization of law enforcement and considered forward-thinking proposals to address the problem. This time On The Road, Legal Talk Network producer Laurence Colletti and ABA Law Student Division Chair Kareem Aref sit down with the panelists to further dive into this controversial issue. Rashidah Grinage from the Coalition of Police Accountability, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, former sheriff Dub Lawrence, and ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice Vice Chair Cathleen Yonahara discuss congressional involvement in local police departments’ access to military equipment and why they must legally use it (or lose it). They question police force training and suggest a bigger focus on de-escalation of life-threatening situations. Dub Lawrence then goes on to talk about changes in his 50 years of experience with law enforcement and the documentary made about the death of his son-in-law. The guests finish the interview by discussing the importance of discourse and Congress’ reform in reducing the problem of increased police militarization and public mistrust.

Kareem Aref is a law student at the University of California, Davis – School of Law. He is also chair of the American Bar Association Law Student Division.

Rashidah Grinage lives in Oakland, California, and is coordinator for the Coalition of Police Accountability. Previously, she was the director of PUEBLO: People United for a Better Life in Oakland. Rashidah has worked on police accountability since the mid 1990s.

Dub Lawrence is the former sheriff for Davis County, Utah. He founded the first SWAT team in Davis County in 1975 and has observed the things that have occurred in law enforcement since then from a civilian perspective, an elected official perspective, as a county sheriff, and as a law enforcement officer. In 2015, a documentary was released about the death of his son-in-law and other shootings related to an increase in violent SWAT team raids.

Jeff Adachi is the elected public defender of San Francisco, a pension reform advocate, and a former candidate for Mayor of San Francisco. As the only elected public defender in the state of California, Mr. Adachi oversees an office of 93 lawyers and 60 support staff who represent over 23,000 people each year charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses.

Cathleen Yonahara is an employment partner at Freeland Cooper & Foreman. She is also vice chair of the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, the civil rights and equal opportunity committee of the ABA which sponsored this panel.

On the Road

ABA Annual Meeting 2016: America Votes

As this is an election year, many people (including lawyers) are paying closer attention to election and voting rights. So what’s trending in election law and what could these developments mean for the upcoming American election? In this On the Road report recorded at the 2016 ABA Annual Meeting, Joe Patrice interviews C. Robert Heath and Ben Griffith, contributing authors to the book “America Votes! A Guide to Modern Election Law and Voting Rights.” They begin by talking about Evenwel vs. Abbott, a case in which the Supreme Court allowed states to use total population, not those who can vote, when drawing legislative districts. They then address the state of voter identification cases and whether rigid voter ID laws have a significant impact on certain classes of people. Robert, Ben, and Joe finish by discussing political and racial gerrymandering, which is likely the root cause of the U.S. Congressional gridlock.

C. Robert Heath is an attorney with Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta where he practices complex governmental litigation and counseling, election law and voting rights, open government and ethics, and many other areas of law. Robert has written and presented extensively about the topic of electoral law.

Ben Griffith is the principal of Griffith Law Firm in Oxford, Missouri. He focuses his practice on federal and state civil litigation, with emphasis on voting rights and election law, civil rights, public sector insurance coverage, and environmental law.

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