‘No reasonable jury…’

The honest-to-God, simple question that looms in the case of the WM3 is whether anyone truly believes at this point that if Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. were placed on trial today, a reasonable jury would find them guilty. It is a moral question that now confronts the Arkansas Supreme Court, similar, in my mind, to the moral question that confronted Gov. Orval Faubus just over 50 years ago, when he closed Little Rock’s Central High School (above) rather than allow it to be desegregated. Faubus used his authority to perform a shameful act, and Arkansas was tarred with that decision for decades to come. At the time of Little Rock’s desegregation crisis, there were many in the community urging not only decency but reason. Faubus allowed his political ambitions to drown out those reasonable voices. So far, the case of the WM3 has followed a similar course. In their trials, just as in Little Rock 51 years ago, hysteria was harnessed to political purposes, and mean impulses prevailed. Now is the time for this state’s high court to put an end to the misuse of law that this case represents. Now is the time for one court in this state to finally require local officials to give Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley the fair trials the never received or set them free. Now is the time to address the injustice that has been done to Christopher Byers, Michael Moore and Stevie Branch by conducting a real investigation into their murders.