Judge John Fogleman: cavalier and careless on the campaign trail

Judge John Fogleman, who prosecuted Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley and who is now running for a seat on the Arkansas Supreme Court, has said several times that if the three are innocent, he hopes they will soon be freed. He then notes that he does not believe they’re innocent.

An honest judge—one who sincerely cared about matters of guilt and innocence—would take time to learn the facts.

In a speech on Jan. 20, Fogleman derided the importance of new evidence that has been submitted on behalf of the West Memphis Three. He told the Lions Club and Trumann, Arkansas:

“They found a hair that belonged to a stepfather of one of the [murdered] boys and another hair belonging to a friend of that stepfather.

“But what,” he asked, “is really unusual about finding a hair from a stepfather on his stepson. I would think that would be something expected. … A hair from a stepdad on a stepson shouldn’t be unexpected.”

He concluded: “This was a difficult case. But it was investigated thoroughly. Many people were looked at in this case. But I will say, every piece of evidence we had pointed to those three.”

The problem with all this is that none of it is true.

The hair of a stepfather was found—but not on his own stepson, as Fogleman said, but in the bindings of another of the three murder victims.

If the judge is going to talk about this very important case, he owes it to his audiences to, at least, get his facts straight.

Fogleman also strains credibility with his claim that the case was thoroughly investigated. It was not.

The stepfather whose hair has been found on one of the victims was not even questioned as part of the investigation. And the questioning of other important parties was cursory, inept, or both.

But where Fogleman really mocks his audiences—and everyone in this state who risks having him elected to the supreme court—is with his claim that “every piece of evidence we had pointed to those three.”

He must believe we’re all so ignorant that we don’t know about the evidence left in a Bojangle’s restaurant on the night of the murders by a bloody, muddy man, who tried to clean up in the restroom.

Fogleman must think nobody remembers that when police were asked what happened to the bloody items they’d collected from the restroom, they testified that that critical evidence had been “lost.”

That evidence would have pointed away from the three who were convicted, but it conveniently never made it into court.

Fogleman’s cavalier attitude about the facts and the conduct of this case are chilling.

But the worst of his remarks is this: If losing evidence is so okay with Fogleman that he’s willing to call an investigation in which that happens “thorough,” Arkansans should have grave fears about what kind of judgment he will bring to cases that come before him on the high court, if he’s elected.