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Examining the state of appeals by Avery & Dassey

In this March 13, 2007 file photo, Steven Avery listens to testimony in the courtroom at the Calumet County Courthouse in Chilton. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

Although all of the appeals by Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey challenging their convictions for the murder of Teresa Halbach have been rejected all the way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, both men still have items pending before different courts.

While the usual appeals have been exhausted in Avery's case, he again petitioned the circuit court last year, without an attorney, raising multiple issues. These included that his right to consult with his attorneys was violated, the trial judge was biased, his trial counsel was ineffective (for multiple reasons), and that he did not have an unbiased jury.

On Nov. 23, Sheboygan County Judge Angela Sutkiewicz - who is now handling the case at that level - denied all of the motions. She noted in several instances that these were issues which should have been raised in previous appeals or hearings, and therefore cannot be raised now.

Avery appealed her 16-page ruling to the appeals court, making several requests, including having a different district of the appeals court review the case. In a Dec. 15 ruling, most of Avery's procedural requests were denied, including change of venue. However, it has not ruled on the merits of the appeal of Judge Sutkiewicz's decision.

Dassey's appeal was rejected by the state court of appeals in 2013, and the state Supreme Court denied a request to review that decision.

Dassey then tuned to the federal courts, filing a "writ of habeas corpus" in 2014, seeking to have a federal judge overturn the conviction. He cited four reasons, including the voluntariness of the confession and a "request for discretionary reversal in the interests of justice."

The case is assigned to Magistrate Judge William Duffin. There is no timetable or deadline on when he has to rule on the case.

Another option, theoretically, would be a pardon, but that is quite unlikely.

Despite online petitions asking President Barack Obama to intervene, he does not have any power to act on a state court conviction.

Gov. Scott Walker, who has never issued a pardon in any case, said this week he would not do so in this one, either.

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