About Mara Leveritt
About Mara Leveritt. Contributing editor to the Arkansas Times and past Arkansas Journalist of the Year, has reported for almost three decades on police, courts and prisons.
Mara has written three nonfiction books about crime and public corruption and she is working on a fourth – the third book in the Justice Knot trilogy about the West Memphis Three.
The Boys on the Tracks (1998, St. Martin’s Press) is about murder and prosecutorial corruption in Saline County. Devil’s Knot (2002, Atria) is about the deeply problematic trials of the teenagers who became known as the West Memphis Three. Dark Spell (Bird Call Press) is about Jason Baldwin’s post-conviction ordeal. The first two of these were awarded Arkansas’s prestigious Booker Worthen Prize.
A feature film based on Devil’s Knot, starring Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon, premiered in Little Rock on May 3, 2014.
Mara is the 2014 recipient of the Porter Prize. Established in 1984, the Porter Fund Literary Prize is a non-profit organization supporting Arkansas writers and poets. The Porter Prize was founded in honor of Dr. Ben Kimpel. Read Mara’s acceptance speech here.
In May 2014, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock awarded Mara an honorary Ph.D., hooding her as a “doctor of humane letters.”
In 2012, Mara was awarded a Laman Fellowship to continue work on Justice Knot, her trilogy about the West Memphis case and the questions it raises about the adequacy of judicial processes in the U.S. That year, the Southeast Region of the American Board of Trial Advocates named her its Journalist of the Year, “in recognition of her years of unbiased reporting of the facts and legal arguments in many high-profile court proceedings and her persistent efforts to explain to the public the reasoning underlying sometimes controversial court decisions.”
In In 2011, Mara sued the Arkansas Supreme Court’s Committee on Professional Conduct over the office’s policy of threatening persons who reported complaints against attorneys with prosecution for contempt of court if they disclosed their complaints publicly. Leveritt’s federal civil rights lawsuit contended that this restraint violated the nation’s First Amendment. A year later, the state settled the lawsuit by agreeing to end the practice.
Her reporting experiences have led her to espouse abolition of immunity for prosecutors who engage in official misconduct, electronic recording of all custodial police interviews, and video recording of all criminal trials, with DVDs made available to the public.
Mara writes regularly about “cryptolaw,” a word she coined to explain how plain language is often distorted by members of the legal system to the detriment of public trust.
Mara enjoys speaking at universities, legal conferences and legal reform events. Click here to for inquiries about her availability for your event.