Bad Lawyering

Bad Lawyering

Len Kachinsky

Attorney Len Kachinsky was appointed to represent Brendan Dassey. Brendan repeatedly and consistently told Kachinsky that he was innocent and had falsely confessed. Kachinsky did not believe his client and went to work to secure another confession and guilty plea from him. He told Brendan he should confess and also had his investigator, Michael O’Kelly, visit Brendan in prison to tell him that he thought he should confess as well.

Kachinsky and O’Kelly worked together against Brendan until they got what they wanted. Emails between the two show their coordinated effort to sway their client to admit guilt. They planned out their “interrogations” of Brendan, and even decided to skip appointments with Brendan to “make him feel more alone.” O’Kelly made his feelings clear to Kachinsky in one email, describing Brendan’s family as “truly where the devil resides in comfort.” He goes on to say: “I can find no good in any member. These people are pure evil…A friend of mind suggested ‘This is a one branch family tree. Cut this tree down. We need to end the gene pool here.’”
Kachinsky did not keep his efforts against Brendan private. He made several statements to the local and national media indicating that his client was guilty. He told the press that his client was “remorseful” (even though Brendan had repeatedly told Kachinsky that he was innocent) and that “there is, quite frankly, no defense.”
O’Kelly would strike the final blow when he visited Brendan in jail to inform him that he had failed his polygraph test. This was as an outright lie. O’Kelly’s lies did not stop there. O’Kelly told Brendan repeatedly during the videotaped visit that he would receive no help at all from his defense attorney, and that he would spend the rest of his life in prison if he did not confess. O’Kelly went on to fabricate a plea deal (no plea offer was or ever had been on the table), telling Brendan that if he confessed, he would receive “twenty years” and get out of prison in time to “have a family.”
During the process of intimidating Brendan, O’Kelly  provided him with a homemade document which he pressured Brendan to fill out. The form asked Brendan to check either “I am sorry” or “I am not sorry” in the boxes provided. O’Kelly asked Brendan to write out a confession. When Brendan writes a statement proclaiming his innocence, O’Kelly scolds him and instructs him what he wants him to say. O’Kelly then goes on to instruct Brendan on how to draw sketches of the crime scene using the details O’Kelly provides to him. This is one of the most infuriating moments in the Documentary “Making a Murderer,” as it shows Brendan’s own defense team manipulating him, just as his interrogators had previously done before his arrest.
O'Kelly form
O’Kelly’s homemade form he orders Brendan to sign

Brendon, feeling helpless, agreed to his attorney’s demands. Kachinsky arranged for Brendan to undergo a police interrogation on May 13, 2006, so that he could provide his confession. Kachinsky did not attend this interrogation, and failed to arrange any safeguards at all for his client. No plea offers were ever discussed prior to this interrogation.

After Brendan provided a confession as instructed by his attorney, he was told to call his mother to confess his guilt to her as well. That recorded phone call would later be used against Brendan no less than three times to further show that he truly confessed. In fact, Brendan’s call to his mother was the focus of the prosecution’s closing arguments.
Several weeks after Brendan confessed, the court received word that Kachinsky was not present for the interrogation. The court removed Kachinsky as Brendan’s counsel and appointed successor counsel. At the same time, the court ruled that Kachinsky’s performance was otherwise efficient, and allowed the case to proceed to trial with Brendan’s “confession” in tact.

Kachinsky/O’Kelly Emails

This is the email exchange between Brendan Dassey’s defense attorney, Len Kachinsky, and his investigator, Michael O’Kelly. This exchange shows the two working together to secure a confession from their client.

Emails read bottom to top.

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