The Mara Leveritt Blog

Mara has written extensively on criminal justice in Arkansas and America. 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.

Chosen by the Southeast Region of the American Board of Trial Advocates in 2012, Mara was named 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.”

Major topics on the Mara Leveritt Blog include the West Memphis Three case, the Tim Howard case, Abuse of Power by members of the legal system, the Death Penalty, the War on Drugs and much more. Use the list in the right hand column to explore them all.

Arkansas, Scalia and Thomas would execute despite innocence

Last week, an Arkansas prosecuting attorney refused to grant Victoria Hutcheson immunity when she wanted to recant her earlier testimony in the shameful prosecution of the West Memphis Three. If there was any lingering doubt, that act erased it: Arkansas officials are not interested in either truth or justice in this case. They care only […]

A letter from Jason Baldwin, as he contemplates heading back to court

Note: Jason sent me the following letter with a request that it be published in the Arkansas Times. It appears there this week. Hi, my name is Charles Jason Baldwin and 16 years ago I was convicted for a crime I did not commit. I was a 16-year-old boy then, today I am a 32-year-old […]

Student interviews Judge Burnett; he says of Echols, “My court is through with him.”

Last November, Lindsey Fry, a student at Lyon College in Batesville, AR, interviewed Judge David Burnett, (shown above during the trial of Jessie Misskelley, Jr.,) for a class assignment. At my request, Fry, who is currently working at television station KATV in Little Rock, sent me her report on that interview, which I am happy […]

WM3 supporters upstage Fogelman’s campaign announcement

Members of Arkansas Take Action, a group critical of the trials that resulted in murder convictions for Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, Jr., walked out of a press conference held Monday at the state capitol by Judge John Fogelman to announce his candidacy for the Arkansas Supreme Court. (See video here.) In 1994, […]

The cozy courts of Arkansas

David Perry Davis, a New Jersey lawyer and active supporter of the WM3, wrote today saying he was “trying to understand why a state with elected officials is acting so blindly to justice.” He cited the West Memphis case, and that of Tim Howard and asked my view on why such travesties happen. How is […]

Tim Howard sidebar

What happens when key police files are found in the trunk of an officer’s car as the case is heading to trial? Before Tim Howard’s case went to trial, his lawyers complained to the judge that the prosecutor had not turned over important information he had about other possible assailants. The surrender of such information […]

The case for killing Tim Howard, part 3

*The purse, boots, gun, etc. * As for statements that Howard had been seen with Shannon’s purse and later disposed of it, Hannah wrote: “His disposal could mean he wanted to dispose of evidence that he had murdered her–or that he did not want to be caught with the purse, given that someone else had […]

The case for killing Tim Howard, part 2

‘Horrible, horrible’ Normally, prosecutors in murder cases do not seek the death penalty. That most severe punishment is reserved for crimes of an especially heinous nature, such as those that appear to have been committed with exceptional cruelty. When Howard’s case went to trial in December 1999, two years after the crime, prosecuting attorney Tom […]

The case for killing Tim Howard

_Note: A few readers have recently learned about Timothy Howard, another person awaiting execution on Arkansas’s Death Row. I wrote about Howard’s case for the Arkansas Times in 2002 and remain in touch with him. I believe that, like Damien Echols, he is innocent. I also see disturbing similarities between his case and that of […]

‘No reasonable jury…’

The honest-to-God, simple question that looms in the case of the WM3 is whether anyone truly believes at this point that if Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. were placed on trial today, a reasonable jury would find them guilty. It is a moral question that now confronts the Arkansas Supreme Court, similar, […]