Jason Baldwin Set To Appear In Jonesboro Court


JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- A "Rule 37" hearing is an attempt by a defendant to say they were unfairly represented or that their attorney didn't perform to the best of their ability during an original trial proceeding, but just how far will this get Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley?

Many thought it was the end of the road for the West Memphis Three earlier in September when Judge David Burnett ruled that he would not accept a request to look at DNA evidence made by the three defendants.

However, for Baldwin and Misskelley their final chance is wrapped around what's called a "Rule 37" petition.

"Rule 37 is basically the ineffective assistance of counsel motion," said attorney Ray Nickle.

He says that's something that's often hard to prove and a tactic rarely works, and that the West Memphis Three were adequately represented due to the nature of the case.

"The attorneys that handled these matters, not only were they competent attorneys, but each defendant was represented by two attorneys," said Nickle.

That's where things can get sticky for the defendants.  Once the Rule 37 petition is filed the attorney-client privilege is waived.

"So, therefore, the attorney or attorneys representing that person then become a witness for the state, so to speak. So, the prosecuting attorney can call them as a witness saying you did this, this, and this," said Nickle.

And if it can be proved that the defense attorneys from back in 1994 did do their jobs, the chances for a retrial could be coming to a quick close.

"Even the other arguments they are making, at least the way I understood, later discovered evidence or DNA, these would have been things outside the scope of these attorneys. So to bring it up now, and try and bring it into the courts is a last ditch effort," said Nickle.

Jason Baldwin is expected to appear before Judge Burnett as his attorneys plead his case beginning Wednesday.

I will be live from at the hearing both on the air and on our web site throughout the day.

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - It's back to court for one of the "West Memphis Three" Wednesday as a retrial hearing gets underway here in Jonesboro.

Jason Baldwin is expected to appear alongside his attorneys for a "Rule 37" hearing.

This differs from a request to look at DNA evidence that was denied by Judge David Burnett earlier this month.

A "Rule 37" is filed when a defendant believes their attorney did not do their job or have their best interest in mind during the original trial proceedings.

Both Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley are awaiting their Rule 37 hearings.  Damien Echols hearing was already conducted several years ago.

Will Carter will be at Wednesday's hearing and bring us the latest in the retrial efforts in live reports throughout the day on Region 8 News and here on our web site through our Region 8 News Blog.

Story ideas or comments?  Email Will at wcarter@kait8.com