Justice Opinion

My thoughts about the justice stories that are hitting the headlines -- with a focus on stories about race, guns, and self-defense. Find out where I stand.

Justice Outreach

This is the platform for our justice advocacy efforts, currently focused on the Talking Race Project, The Hurt Words Project, and Juvenile Outreach. Find out what we’re up to.

Justice Education

I frequently conduct CLEs and seminars for Bar Associations, Criminal Defense Associations, the National Trial Lawyers, and law schools. Find out what I’m talking about.

CNN Op-ed: What Jared Fogle Faces

Written by Mark O'Mara on . Posted in Opinion

cnnJared Fogle, famed pitchman for the Subway restaurant chain, has some problems. On Tuesday, law enforcement investigators confiscated electronics from Fogle's property in Zionsville, Indiana, while helicopters hovered overhead.

The seizure was very likely part of an investigation into the case of Russell Taylor, who had been charged two months ago with breaking federal child pornography laws. At the time of his May 6 arrest, Taylor served as the executive director of The Jared Foundation, Fogle's outreach program.

Fogle is not charged with anything, and federal authorities say he is not under investigation. But if any of the seized devices contain child pornography, and if he had access to it, Fogle may soon face charges as well.

Whatever the meaning of the confiscations from Fogle's property, the incident offers a good teachable moment on child pornography crime.

Read the rest of the op-ed on CNN.com»

Opinion on CNN: Bill Cosby Should Apologize

Written by Mark O'Mara on . Posted in Opinion

cnnThe most devastating word Bill Cosby ever uttered is "yes." When the attorney for one of his accusers asked Cosby whether he had acquired quaaludes (the 1980s version of Rohypnol) to give to women to have sex with them, Cosby answered "yes." Pursuant to a confidentiality agreement, Cosby thought that word would never be heard in public -- but now it has. And it will destroy a legacy built over a remarkable career that has spanned over four decades.

The legacy doesn't belong just to Cosby himself; it belongs to you and to me. His legacy has been adopted by generations who view Dr. Huxtable as a model for good parenting.

In the 1960s, while the nation struggled with integration, Cosby was a black actor who was welcomed into white living rooms on a weekly basis with his humor, success and selfless friendliness. He was someone we could trust. Colorblind, we looked to him as someone who can help us with parenting. He taught our children lessons through Fat Albert and Picture Pages.

Now, instead of Cosby being the father and the grandfather to generations, his legacy lies tattered by the excesses that have become a cliche of the 1970s and 1980s: sex, drugs, and now rape.

Read the full op-ed on CNN.com»

Media Coverage of the Criminal Justice System

Written by Mark O'Mara on . Posted in Outreach

media meetingAngela Starke, the Public Information Officer for the Office of State Attorney Jeffrey Ashton, joined the PIOs for several other agencies involved in the criminal justice system for a seminar designed to give members of the local press a refresher on how the system works. Justice stories get more and more coverage these days, and like it or not, reporters have become inextricably entwined with the criminal justice system.

Nearly forty reporters, producers, and news directors came to the State Attorney’s offices for a three-hour presentation that guided the press corp through a hypothetical scenario, and provided pointers for how to deal with each agency involved in the justice system. Along with my Communications Director, I spoke on behalf of defense attorneys and gave reporters some suggestions on how to deal with criminal lawyers, who may find themselves overwhelmed when a high-profile case hits their practice.

It was a great program, and I think it should be reproduced in every media market in the country.

Working to Reunite Baby Penelope with Mom

Written by Mark O'Mara on . Posted in Outreach

Last year, I had the privilege of reuniting Sarah Markham with her baby boy. If you recall, Sarah Markham is the vegan mom who lost her baby to child protective services after insisting on vegan formula. It took us more than five months to reunite mother and child, and the experience reminded me how broken and dysfunctional the system is. Now I’m embroiled in another high-profile fight, this time to reunite Baby Penelope with her mother, Jesse McCreery. It’s been 9 days since Jesse has seen Penelope -- and it’s not because Jesse has been prohibited from seeing the baby; she has been permitted supervised visits. It is simply because DCF has been unwilling or unable work with the foster parents to coordinate the visits. That is unacceptable and is more criminal than any act Jessica is alleged to have done.

I express some of my frustrations in this news report»