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.

State versus science: Recent court filings offer glimpse of the hearing ahead

The Arkansas Supreme Court has told state prosecutors and attorneys for the West Memphis Three that they can bring “all” the evidence they consider important into the evidentiary hearing set to begin in December. Will the state again introduce Satan, as it did when the men were convicted? [private]Remember that the arrests were predicated entirely […]

Arkansas attorney calls for justice in a Jonesboro paper

The following letter appeared on Mar. 21 in the Jonesboro Sun, the newspaper published in the town where Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin were convicted and where the hearing for them and Jessie Misskelley, Jr. will be held in December. The letter to the editor was written by Ken Swindle, who is from Jonesboro but who […]

State said to have ‘recently’ tested blood on Misskelley shirt; defense seeks FBI report; location of evidence questioned

A spokesman for Damien Echols said today that “within the last year,” state officials sent a t-shirt that was found in the home of Jessie Misskelley, Jr. in 1993 to a laboratory for DNA testing. The shirt was reportedly tested without defense attorneys’ knowledge and after state officials had notified them that all post-conviction DNA […]

Nostalgia and Marlou, by Damien Echols

Art by Sebastian Yingling Nostalgia was completely unlike the other girls in her class. She was a secret girl, a tiny sorceress with black eyes and bones like razors. While the other girls played hop-scotch and jump rope, Nostalgia had tea with the ghosts that haunted the caterpillar tree. The caterpillar tree stood at the […]

Interview on Fox 13 in Memphis

News anchor Greg Coy of Fox 13 in Memphis talks to me about the media’s role in the West Memphis case. ‘Devil’s Knot’ Author on WM3: MyFoxMEMPHIS.com

IMO: Media’s role in the case of the West Memphis Three–my speech at The University of Memphis

If you shut your door to all errors, truth will be shut out. —-Rabindranath Tagore, poet, philosopher, author, songwriter, painter, educator, composer, Nobel laureate (1861-1941)  On Thursday, Mar. 24, I was the featured speaker at the 27th annual Freedom of Information Congress sponsored by the University of Memphis Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. […]

Misskelley’s attorney publicly opposes ‘confession’ bill introduced by former judge, now senator, Burnett

      In his first term as a state senator, former circuit judge David Burnett, who presided at the trials of the West Memphis Three, has introduced a bill in the Arkansas Legislature titled: “An Act Regarding Evidence and a Defendant’s Confession.” [private]The bill would change existing Arkansas law which now states simply that […]

Laser foresees three-week hearing in fall; sets time limits for requesting and testing DNA; wants briefs on juror misconduct by May 25

In a three-page order issued on Mar. 15, Arkansas Circuit Judge David Laser set deadlines for attorneys representing the West Memphis Three and the state attorney general’s office, in preparation for an evidentiary hearing that he said will be held “for up to three weeks (continuous)” between Oct. 1 and Dec. 15 of this year. […]

Prison tense over contraband; five guards attacked at Misskelley’s unit; others ransack Echols’ cell

A source reports that guards ransacked Damien Echols’ cell on Death Row last weekend while the prison’s assistant warden had Echols in his office, where Echols was accused of participating in a video recording shot with a smuggled-in cell phone. The search followed by a week an incident at an adjoining unit during which inmates attacked […]