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.

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Bring A Prosecutor To Justice

If there is one thing I’ve learned reporting on our criminal justice system it is that we have too many prosecutors playing fast and loose with the law. As a result, I am proud to serve on the Board of Advisors for the Center for Prosecutor Integrity. We have undertaken a huge, fascinating, and very […]

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Some Humans Bite. Revisiting The Evidence.

Soccer fans were stunned when Luis Suarez bit an opponent during the World Cup games—even those who knew that Suarez had received counseling in the past for his habit of aggressive biting. The incident reminds us that some humans are known for leaving their marks—literally—on others. I watched the news about Suarez recalling the controversy […]

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A Theme Of Schemes

Someone asked me today if any theme connected all my books. “Prosecutors and politics,” I blurted. Then: “And maybe a subtext of drugs.” My first book, The Boys on the Tracks, is about a corrupt prosecutor who manipulated his position to derail the investigation of two teenagers whose bodies were found run over by a […]

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‘Start talking about the devil’

On March 3, 1994, John Fogleman, then a deputy prosecuting attorney, was preparing to call Damien’s probation officer, Jerry Driver, to the stand to question him about Damien’s alleged involvement in “the occult.” Damien’s and Jason’s defense attorneys were fighting hard to block that testimony. As I write in Dark Spell, the official transcript of […]

More suffering in the WM3 ‘family’

A caring friend asked me to post the following information. I completely agree. The repurcussions of the injustice in the WM case have hurt, not only the murder victims’ families, but the families of the wrongfully convicted men as well. Here’s the note: Damien’s mother, Pamela, is not doing well at all. Michelle was in the ER […]

This week’s exoneration in Colorado: Note how it resembles—and differs from—the case of the WM3

After 25 years, a Colorado grand jury decided on Tuesday that Timothy Masters is no longer a suspect in the 1987 murder of Peggy Hettrick. Masters was 15 years old when police in Fort Collins, Colorado brought him in for questioning about the murder of Hettrick, whose sexually mutilated body was found in a field […]

Poverty and neglect still plague ‘Lakeshore’

University of Memphis journalism student Chelsea Boozer wrote a fine story for yesterdays Memphis Commercial Appeal. Titled “Arkansas trailer park residents find themselves in a dangerous no-man’s land in Lakeshore,” it describes the unincorporated part of Crittenden County where, at various times, Jason Baldwin, Jessie Misskelley and Damien Echols lived, before their arrests. Boozer, who […]

The big disconnect: official versus public perceptions of the West Memphis case

  The case of the West Memphis Three is a landmine for Arkansas’s judiciary. When people anywhere learn what has happened to the three Arkansas men, their confidence in the courts—at least in Arkansas—tends to explode. The damage already has been vast, and it’s likely to spread. Not that any member of the judiciary has […]

The crime lab under a microscope

It’s safe to say that the work of Arkansas’s crime lab, and especially that of Dr. Frank Peretti, one of its medical examiners, will be scrutinized at December’s evidentiary hearing for the West Memphis Three. Defense attorneys have already challenged the scientific accuracy of Peretti’s conclusion that a knife caused the injuries to two of […]

Personal request: If you’re an Arkansan, hurry! Write to the state supreme court!

Dear Friends of Justice in Arkansas: I took a load of scrap paper to a recycler this morning to be shredded. A sign at the office door read: “All activities in this office are audio-visually recorded.” Many businesses have cameras running 24/7. But did you know that in this age, when just about anything can […]