Much ado about fundraising

This morning, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported that a new fund has been established for the defense of the West Memphis Three. I urge you to read more about the new West Memphis 3 Innocence Project. You will see that I am one of the directors.
Not surprisingly, announcement of the fund’s creation has stirred up something of a storm among supporters. Here is my response to some of the criticisms that have been aired.

1. None of us involved is receiving any money from the WM3IP fund, nor will we. All efforts to create and maintain the fund have and will be volunteered.

2. With regard to the claim that attorneys for Jason and Jessie have not complained, we believe Dan Stidham’s report that funds have not been made available to advance Jason and Jessie’s appeals.

3. Alice Leeds disparages Judge Stidham and me, but she does not answer the important questions we’ve raised regarding how much money has been raised and how much of it has gone to further the appeals of Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin.

4. Recent comments by Dustin McDaniel, the Arkansas attorney general, suggest that Damien, Jason and Jessie have a hard legal fight ahead. We want the legal teams for Jason and Jessie to be involved in that fight. In fact, we believe that this battle is going to require the efforts of teams for all three men–not just one. We don’t think this makes us traitors to the cause of the West Memphis Three. Rather, we believe that, in contrast to the other fund, we are acting in true support of ALL THREE MEN.

5. It is true that what helps crack the case of one man, probably helps all three. But if that logic holds true for one, it holds true for all three. For example, the analysis of some lawyers is that Jason Baldwin’s case actually poses the most problems for the state. His lawyers called no witnesses for his defense, he didn’t confess, he didn’t exhibit any of the behaviors that worked against Damien. By the same token, Damien’s defense may be the most difficult. He has exhausted all but the last of his state appeals. We believe that a concerted effort needs to be made on behalf of each of the three men, because it does not make sense to keep striking in just one direction when any of three might crack the case—for the benefit of all three.

6. One of the central problems with this case was that the juries did not question what they were told by the prosecutors. Supporters of the WM3, on the other hand, have been willing to question and to rely on facts. We believe we are continuing that tradition, even when the questions and the facts apply to our own role as supporters. We are not sheep, willing to accept unsupported claims and non-answers to serious questions. We are also not willing to fall in line with forms of group-think and character assassination. That, after all, is what convicted the WM3.

7. All we ask is this: Check it out for yourself. Ask the questions we did. See if YOU are satisfied with the answers.

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