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.

A look at the judge assigned to the WM3 evidentiary hearing

Judge David N. Laser is said to go ‘right to the important thing’ [private]When Judge David Laser took the bench at the scheduling conference with attorneys in the case of the West Memphis Three, he looked a bit like Santa Claus: roundish of belly but with a trim gray beard and mustache, and a black […]

Judge imposes new gag order, in case of possible new trial for WM3.

At a scheduling conference today in circuit court in Jonesboro, Judge David Laser ordered attorneys representing Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. to file briefs with him by Feb. 18 regarding issues to be addressed at the evidentiary hearing that was ordered last September by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Laser said he was “giving this case priority” and that he wanted to “get this done as soon as possible.” Laser was appointed to hear the case because the previous judge, David Burnett, was elected to the state Senate.

The conference took place with some attorneys appearing in person and others by speaker phone. Ten lawyers participated in all — four for the state and two each for the three men, known as the West Memphis Three.

As issues to be considered were discussed, Laser said, “As I look at it, they [justices of the Supreme Court] basically want this case pre-tried through the court.” He added, “I’m certainly not limiting what can be presented. If there are additional issues or evidence that needs to come in, they will come in.”

At last! A ruling in the WM case that makes sense!

This is a day we’ve been waiting for, and I want to tell everyone how proud I am of the effort that has resulted in this first, critical step toward justice. The Arkansas Supreme Court could not have been more clear in its repudiation of the reasons Judge David Burnett and the office of Attorney […]

Arkansas Supreme Court orders re-examination of case for a new trial for the WM3; “all” evidence must be considered

The Arkansas Supreme Court this morning delivered its opinion that Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. did not receive fair hearings when they appeared before Judge David Burnett seeking new trials. The court issued separate rulings in all three cases. Here are some significant parts of those opinions. In the case of Damien […]

Happy Haunting

Just a reminder to always check out what’s new at Anje Vela’s Skeleton Key Auctions. She collects gifts from fine artists to raise money for the WM3. Here’s Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger, from a nightmare that, amazingly, did not originate in an Arkansas courtroom).

Poem for a Quiet Vigil

Some of you have asked me to post the poem I read at the Vigil for Justice on Sept. 29. Here it is. Who are we? Who are we, who, having heard a state say “Guilty,” have the nerve to shout back “No.” Who are we to pray: “Give these men fair trials or for […]

TruTV posts my commentary on the ‘all-wrong’ case of the West Memphis Three

See it here. And, if you read it, let TruTV know what you think about the case too. (Above, victims Stevie Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers.)

Look who’ll be joining us in spirit for tonight’s Vigil for Justice

Want to see some of the amazing folks who are joining in tonight’s Vigil for Justice? They’ve sent pics from Arkansas, across the US and around the world. It was fun for me to get all these photos. Enjoy them here.

Voices for Justice documentary now online

Mike Poe’s excellent documentary from the Voices for Justice concert last month in Little Rock is now available online. There’s commentary from Damien’s lawyer, Lorri Davis, a couple of other folks, and me, but the most moving segments are those where Damien, Jason and Jessie speak for themselves. It’s only about 15 minutes—and worth every […]

Little Rock’s Vigil for Justice takes shape

For anyone coming: Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church is located at 1601 S. Louisiana in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. (Take I-630 to the the Center St./Main St. exit and go south 4 blocks. The church is on the corner of Louisiana and 16th.) The vigil will last roughly an hour. Essentially, we’ll have: Instrumental music […]