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.

Journalism ethics?

Some of you may have seen the column by Linda Caillouet in today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in which she suggests I may be ethically challenged because I both report on the West Memphis case and advocate hard as I can for new trials. Here’s the email I sent her this morning: Dear Linda, I’m sorry you […]

2,500 turn out for celebrity concert seeking justice for the WM3

Saturday night was a big one in Little Rock’s Robinson Auditorium, when Eddie Vedder, Natalie Maines, Johnny Depp, Patti Smith and other artists put on a high-energy, near-perfect show to raise awareness about the injustice being suffered by the West Memphis Three. Here’s a good account of it from I’m told that Live Nation […]

Case 93-66-666: Analyzing the Pretrial Publicity of the West Memphis Three Trial

In 1993, three young boys were brutally murdered in West Memphis, Arkansas. Once the bodies were found, The Commercial Appeal, a daily newspaper in Memphis, Tennessee, reported any information regarding the murder investigation, and eventually reported the murder trials of the three suspected killers. The murders were initially suspected of being committed by a person […]

Assessing Fogleman’s defeat

Going into the election on May 18, most pundits expected Judge John Fogleman to defeat his opponent, Judge Courtney Henry, for Position 3 on the Arkansas Supreme Court. I too was braced for Fogleman’s win. After all, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the statewide daily paper, had endorsed him, as had my own paper, the Arkansas Times, […]

48 Hours does it right

Tonight, CBS presented the finest program on the West Memphis murders since HBO’s “Paradise Lost” aired almost 14 years ago. It’s not easy to tell such a complex story well, but “48 Hours” did the job well. Among many high points, it was a pleasure to see Johnny Depp speak so passionately about the injustice […]

Judge John Fogleman: cavalier and careless on the campaign trail

Judge John Fogleman, who prosecuted Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley and who is now running for a seat on the Arkansas Supreme Court, has said several times that if the three are innocent, he hopes they will soon be freed. He then notes that he does not believe they’re innocent. An honest judge—one […]

For four months, retired judge Burnett ignored Arkansas Supreme Court order

Retired Circuit Court Judge David Burnett ignored for more than four months an order from the Arkansas Supreme Court regarding what portions, if any, of Damien Echols’ appeals should be sealed. The matter stemmed from a Freedom of Information request I submitted to Leslie Steen, the clerk of the supreme court, for access to those […]

Above the law, Part 2

While America and the world look on, we here in Arkansas are struggling with a capricious state supreme court that increasingly has come to symbolize our tattered legal system. Here’s my latest attempt in the Arkansas Times to explain just a little bit of what the WM3—and the rest of us—are up against.

Arkansas high court displays contempt for its own rule

A column I’ve written about the latest example of shoddy court practices, especially as they relate to the West Memphis case, appears in this week’s Arkansas Times. It’s titled Above the law.