Nov 27, 2019

Wisconsin Souls Betray the Innocent — Thanksgiving 2019

Corrupt Wisconsin police targeted the innocent to tragic
consequence. Image - Kathe Kollwitz, (1867-1945). Kollwitz
is a major anti-fascist artist who lived in Germany, and
never recovered from the death of her son in WW I.
"I hate injustice. I guess that's about the only thing I really do hate."
—Ben Shahn, anti-fascist artist (1898–1969)

Madison, Wisconsin—It's comforting to suppose a gentle ethic resides in Wisconsin, a decency standing ready to challenge betrayal such as defamation, child molestation, corruption, false imprisonment, torture and destruction of life.

This belief defends a lie.

This lie is perhaps the most striking message of the Emmy-winning Making a Murderer docu series (Netflix, Inc), a work that holds Wisconsin up to the world and says, 'look what they have done' to a challenged 16-year-old Brendan Dassey and an exonerated Steven Avery.

So, it is no surprise that it took a handful of out-of-state attorneys and journalists to give Messrs. Dassey and Avery hope, even cautions optimism, that exoneration is near.

One of those jurists is Seth Waxman, 41st Solicitor General of the United States (1997–2001).

A premier advocate before the U.S. Supreme Court the last 40 years, Waxman is defined more by his decency than his prominence as a litigator. See for example Waxman's work to preserve habeas corpus in 2007, (Boumediene v. Bush (06-1195) and Al Odah v. United States (06-1196)), (Center for Constitutional Rights).

Waxman appears to be animated by some core beliefs: That crucifixion of our fellows is wrong, and to bear witness is to incur an obligation to act, to think, to challenge and demand justification.

Few in the State Bar of Wisconsin seem to be animated by such concern — ethics. Rather, careerism and moral numbness define their collective passivity.

Waxman — a member of Brendan Dassey's legal team — said that when reviewing the outrageous interrogation of Dassey by Mark Wiegert, (current Sheriff of the Calumet County Sheriff's Office), and Tom Fassbender (Wisconsin DoJ, DCI investigator (ret)), that his "blood ran cold."

Advocating a pardon or commutation for Dassey from Gov Tony Evers on Oct 2, 2019, Waxman said:

I have been a practicing lawyer since 1977. As part of my pro bono practice, in addition to representing juveniles in criminal justice proceedings, I represent death row inmates. Other than the almost seven years that I was in the Justice Dept, I've always had at least one client facing execution for a capital crime. I have never had a case that has troubled me more than this case, that has kept me awake at night, that makes me anxious and sad. And that's because I know that Brendan Dassey is innocent.
So, why Waxman's involvement and not the involvement or at least support of 100s of Wisconsin attorneys?

I don't pretend to know what is in Seth Waxman's heart. But I have seen hints.

Waxman made some comments at the Bernard G. Segal Memorial Lecture in Law and Ethics, April 10, 2018, explaining what animates his 1,000s of hours of pro bono work and legal advocacy since he became an attorney.

Waxman recalled attorney John Joseph Cassidy, a "cheerful and very engaged Roman Catholic," who sat with him in 1977, and asked:

'Why do you think that [religious] Jews and Jesuits are so drawn to the law?'

And, at the time, I didn't think I knew any Jesuits.

He (senior partner John Joseph Cassidy) said, that he was convinced that Jews and Jesuits excelled at the law because they both come from religious traditions steeped in wrestling with the meaning and application of God's law — a muscular intellectual engagement with religious texts.

And it is true over the course of my career, it' s actually impossible to count the number of times that the terms, Talmudic and Jesuitical, have been used to characterize particularly detailed discussions about how a specific legal principle should be interpreted or applied.

Thus, one can conclude, Waxman believes a religious and moral sensibility guides the role of lawyers during a time of lawlessness in the greater society.

I'm grateful for Seth Waxman's work for the innocent this Thanksgiving Day.

And to my many friends who are members of the Wisconsin Bar, I ask today for them to listen at some point to the words of Seth Waxman advocating for the innocent, video below.

To help with the Dassey commutation and pardon petition now before Gov Evers, see the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law; Bluhm Legal Clinic, Wrongful Convictions of Youth.

Specifically, all Wisconsin citizens are urged to write a letter in support of Brendan Dassey's petition for a pardon or commutation.

Letter should be addressed to:

Governor Tony Evers
115 East
State Capitol
Madison, WI 53702

Seth Waxman advocating for clemency for Brendan Dassey on Oct 2, 2019 in Madison, Wisconsin. Video is below; [See also Bring Brendan Home.]:

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