Obama Administation Will Be Forced To Issue Statement

In our previous piece, we mentioned that a couple petitions had popped up to free Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey. The White House petition has reached the  “100,000 signatures in 30 or fewer days” threshold with 115,000 coming in by day 16. This means that the Obama administration had to issue an official response.

The bad news however is that White House petitions like this one will not help in a case like this, because President Obama only has the authority to pardon people convicted of federal crimes. Avery and Dassey are in prison on state murder charges which means the only person who can pardon them is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (who appears to have no desire to do so).

Here is the response from the White House:

To best respond to your petition, we should go over what exactly presidential pardoning power entails.

The U.S. Constitution grants the power of clemency to the President: 

“The President … shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States.”

This clemency authority empowers the President to exercise leniency towards persons who have committed federal crimes. Under the Constitution, only federal criminal convictions, such as those adjudicated in the United States District Courts, may be pardoned by the President. In addition, the President’s pardon power extends to convictions adjudicated in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and military court-martial proceedings. However, the President cannot pardon a state criminal offense.

Since Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey are both state prisoners, the President cannot pardon them. A pardon in this case would need to be issued at the state level by the appropriate authorities.

While this case is out of the Administration’s purview, President Obama is committed to restoring the sense of fairness at the heart of our justice system. That’s why he has granted 184 commutations total — more than the last five presidents combined — and has issued 66 pardons over his time in office. 

President Obama has commuted the sentences of more men and women than the past five presidents combined.

This Administration has taken a number of important actions to reduce the federal prison population in keeping with the President’s continuing efforts to enhance the fairness and effectiveness of the criminal justice system at all phases and to better address the vicious cycle of poverty, criminality and incarceration that traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities. These include: 

In 2014, President Obama also issued an Executive Order creating a Task Force on 21st Century Policing that produced a concrete blueprint for cities and towns seeking to put in place new strategies to build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve while enhancing public safety. (The Task Force’s Final Report is available here.) 

And he has met with Americans across the country who are working to improve the criminal justice system, from law enforcement officials working to lower crime and incarceration rates, to former prisoners who are earning their second chance. Last summer, he became the first sitting president to visit a federal prisonAnd he continues to work with Congress to pass meaningful criminal justice reform that makes the system more cost-effective, fairer, and smarter, while enhancing the ability of law enforcement to keep our communities safe.

Thanks again for raising your voices. We hope you’ll continue to participate on the platform.


Watch Brendan Dassey’s Four Hour-Long Confession

One thing that is for sure, the filmmakers were able to weave a very compelling narrative out of what otherwise could have been a boring court case (most are if you sit through it all). So I’m not sure why you’d want to watch  Brendan Dassey’s entire four-hour interrogation where he confesses, but the video is now on YouTube for you to enjoy.


County Clerk Overwhelmed With Records Requests

In our last update, we told you that many people at home have been doing their own sleuthing trying to put the puzzle pieces together. Also many of the news networks have jumped to cover this 2007 case. Manitowoc County Courthouse in Wisconsin has been overwhelmed with record requests since the airing of the series on Netflix:

“We are getting a lot of phone calls and emails,” Lynn Zigmunt, Clerk of Circuit Court for Manitowoc County, told Mashable. “The requests are coming from a variety of sources….. local news networks, even Milwaukee and Madison, but also on a national level from places like CNN (NY), People Magazine, NBC Universal (CA), InTouch/Bauer Publishing (NJ), Good Morning America, even someone from Australia. I’m not sure if they were affiliated with any news organization or just someone from the general public.”

They’ve gotten so many requests that they now have someone working exclusively on filling requests for just the Avery case. And before you make your own request, know it can be very costly: Manitowoc County charges $1.25 a page — “the statutory copy rate,” which translates into an estimated $6,000 for the entire batch.


Steven Avery May Get ‘Best Post-Conviction Lawyer in the Country’

Steven Avery may be getting another lawyer. Sandra Greenman, Avery’s current girlfriend, said on Facebook that “may have a lawyer-best post conviction lawyer in the country! Pray it all works out!!” And while the Wisconsin Innocence Project initially declined to take the Halbach murder case, The Wrap reports theyare now in touch with Avery’s trial lawyers and could potentially take on the case in the future.

Continue Reading Making A Murderer Updates >>

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