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.

Testy session points to hard-hitting retrial of Tim Howard

The chance of a new death sentence for Tim Howard was taken “off the table” today as the judge and attorneys on both sides prepared for the retrial of Tim Howard on charges of murdering a man and woman in Little River County in 1997. Howard spent 14 years on death row before a court granted him a new trial in October 2013.

Jason Baldwin Video – I No Longer Face The Storm Alone

Jason Baldwin Video – I No Longer Face The Storm Alone. This film focuses on the writing of Jason Baldwin and how he used art to get him through the days at Grady Correctional in Arkansas, as well as to inspire hope in those around him.

ANONYMOUS Issues Warning to Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe

ANONYMOUS, the international network of activists and (sometimes) hactivists, stepped into Arkansas this week with a video challenging the West Memphis Police Department and Gov. Mike Beebe to properly solve the murders of Steve Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers. The boys were eight years old in 1993 when their bodies were found in a […]

Rolf Kaestel

Victim pleads for Rolf Kaestel release; Beebe still says no

Gov. Mike Beebe will not issue a last-minute pardon for Rolf Kaestel, who has served 33 years of a life for a $264 robbery, despite two parole boards’ recommendations that Kaestel be released and pleas on Kaestel’s behalf from the man he robbed. Kaestel robbed Senor Bob’s Taco Hut in Fort Smith in 1981, armed […]

Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe Will Not Pardon The WM3

Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe will not pardon the WM3 before he leaves office at the end of this year. He explained that he was constrained from granting any form of clemency because none of the West Memphis Three requested it. Beebe’s statement came in response to a letter I’d written asking broadly that he “exonerate” the […]

Read An Excerpt From Dark Spell at Arkansas Times

On that Saturday, March 19, 1994, when Judge David Burnett sentenced Jason to life in prison, the teenager’s 17th birthday was still more than three weeks away. The following Monday morning, guards cuffed and shackled him for the three-hour ride from the jail in Jonesboro, in Arkansas’s northeast corner, to the Arkansas Department of Correction’s Diagnostic Unit in Pine Bluff, about 150 miles south. Carrying his Bible and $35 from his mother and friends at the jail, he climbed into a van with six other prisoners.

Jason Baldwin Speaks Out

Jason Baldwin speaks out about the justice system since his escape from Arkansas. He got pretty personal in these recent posts on his FB page. here are two examples.

Jason Baldwin Hacky Sack

Jason Baldwin and the Hacky Sack

In the book Dark Spell, Jason Baldwin talks about his experience with a Hacky Sack. Here is a quote from the book and a video of Jason displaying his skill.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel

Quiz for Dustin McDaniel

In light of the state attorney general’s arguments against paying Gyronne Buckley $460,000 for spending 11 years in prison on a wrongful conviction, we think an exercise parsing Dustin McDaniel’s logic may help him think a bit straighter.

Paul Ford Dark Spell

Ford ‘Failed’ Old Woman

DARK SPELL raises significant questions about what Jason Baldwin’s attorney, Paul Ford, did—and did not do—at Jason’s trial. Why, for instance, did Ford fail to call ANY of Jason’s alibi witnesses? Yesterday I found this: Last year, the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct, issued Ford a caution, its mildest form of rebuke, for […]