Brendan Dassey’s Former Lawyer Len Kachinsky Comments On State’s Confession Appeal

Morry GashAP

The man some say served Making a Murderer subject Brendan Dassey up to the state during the death investigation of Teresa Halbach says Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel’s best to keep him behind bars is to avoid the Supreme Court.

“I think the full [Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals] panel is going to be the strategy the state takes,” attorney Len Kachinsky told reporters.

Kachinsky was appointed to represent Brendan Dassey following the confession he gave to investigators Tom Fassbender and Mark Wiegert on March 1, 2006. He is the lawyer who arranged Dassey’s meeting with investigator Michael O’Kelly, who talked the teen into giving a written confession, further implicating him in the murder. Kachinsky was not at the meeting. The lawyer admitted his goal was to reach a plea agreement and avoid trial. Instead, the Wisconsin Public Defender’s Office pulled Kachinsky from the case and replaced him with Mark Fremgen and Ray Edelstein.

Kachinsky was later cited for unethical conduct in the Dassey case, for allowing him to be interviewed by police without legal counsel. He was paid $15,268 in taxpayer money for five month’s of work before being de-certified from taking murder cases. He paid O’Kelly $5,519.

Leaving Dassey unrepresented during police questioning was not all that highlighted Kachinsky’s appearance in Making a Murderer. He spoke to media before trial and said Brendan had taken responsibility for Halbach’s death and suggested Steven Avery was guilty.


In the years after representing Dassey, Kachinsky continued working as a public defender and in private practice in Appleton, Wisconsin. He is now a municipal judge in the town of Menasha.

“I can’t be a full advocate for Dassey at this point, but I would expect the full panel of the Seventh Circuit is going to want to take a look at the case,” he said.

The full Seventh Circuit panel currently consists of 12 sitting judges. Three made up the panel that Thursday upheld the 2016 ruling that Dassey’s confession to Wiegert and Fassbender was involuntary. If Schimel is unsuccessful in front of the full panel, his next option would the Supreme Court, something Kachinsky says would be a risky move.

“Even though this (case) has some unique issues, the Supreme Court takes so few cases, they probably wouldn’t want to take the chance on that,” Kachinsky said.

Last year, Kachinsky told the USA Today that his biggest regret in the Dassey case was his decision to hire O’Kelly, who he said failed to communicate with him.


“He was a loose cannon, and I tried to rein him in,” Kachinsky said.

O’Kelly still works as an investigator for various public defenders around the country. Footage of him sobbing when shown a photograph of a blue ribbon and Teresa Halbach’s church is included in Making a Murderer.

A decision whether Brendan Dassey will be released on bail is expected by 5 p.m., Monday. If the court grants him bail, he could be heading home next week.

Schimel’s office also has the option of retrying him without the confession within 90 days of last Thursday’s ruling.

[Featured Image by Morry Gash/AP Images]