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Jeralyn Merritt

Jeralyn Elise Merritt (born September 28, 1949) is an American criminal defense attorney in private practice in Denver, Colorado, since 1974. She served as one of the principal trial lawyers for Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing case in 1996 and 1997. In 2002 Merritt founded and is the principal author of the blog TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime. She also serves as a legal commentator for news media programs and as an internet journalist.

Jeralyn Merritt
Born (1949-09-28) September 28, 1949 (age 68)
New York City, New York
Residence Denver, Colorado
Nationality American
Education B.A., J.D.
Alma mater University of Michigan
University of Denver
Occupation Criminal defense attorney, author, commentator
Awards Marshall Stern Legislative Achievement Award, Al Horn Award



A 1967 graduate of New Rochelle High School, in New Rochelle, New York, Merritt attended Case Western Reserve University before transferring to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she majored in political science and earned a B.A. in 1971.[1][2] In 1973 she earned a J.D. degree from the University of Denver Law School, returning there to teach "Wrongful Convictions" and "Criminal Defense" as Lecturer in Law from 2000 to 2003.[1][2]

Legal careerEdit

In 1974 Merritt was admitted to the Bar in Colorado, established her own law firm, and in 1981 she was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.[1][2] She is also a member of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar. From 1996 to 2007, she served as a member of the LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell Legal Advisory Board.[1]

In 1996 and 1997 she served as one of six principal trial lawyers for Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing case, after the court venue moved to Denver.[3] In 1995 she received the first annual Marshall Stern Legislative Achievement Award, from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), for which she has served as a member of the Board of Directors (1995–2001), secretary (2002–2003) and treasurer (2003–2004), as the vice-chair of NACDL's Innocence Project from 1998 to 2002[4] and on other committees.[5] In 2008 she received the Al Horn Award from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), "a Lifetime achievement award for advancing the cause of justice and extraordinary support of NORML."[6]

After giving up her practice for a year and a half in order to work on the McVeigh defense team, since 1997, Merritt has continued her own criminal defense practice emphasizing federal drug and white collar crimes and has served as a legal analyst for and commentator on television news programs.[2] From 1997 to 1999, she served as a television legal analyst for MSNBC, and, from 1996 to 2008, as a guest legal commentator on television for NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, CNN, Court TV and Fox News, presenting her perspective as a criminal defense attorney on contemporary legal cases being covered on national media news programs.[7] Merritt is also a specialist in the use of the internet as a legal research resource and presents seminars and speeches on its use in investigation, on handwriting analysis, and on other matters pertaining to her legal specialties.[8]

Areas of practiceEdit

  • Federal and State Drug Offenses
  • Complex Federal Criminal Cases (including multi-defendant drug and fraud conspiracies)
  • Criminal and Civil Forfeitures
  • Pre-Indictment and Grand Jury Representation
  • White Collar Defense (financial crimes, including fraud, money laundering, criminal forfeitures)
  • Electronic Surveillance (cases involving the use of electronic surveillance, including wiretaps)

Bar admissionsEdit

Internet journalismEdit

Merritt is the creator of CrimeLynx, an online legal resource for legal professionals and the general public, and a blog called TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime, which is a three-time winner of a Koufax Award for best single-issue blog in 2002, 2003 and 2004 (in 2004 TalkLeft shared the award with Grits for Breakfast), and a 2006 winner of the Weblog Awards for "The Best of the Top 250 Blogs".[2][9] TalkLeft became one of the blogs featured in "The Ruckus" section at Newsweek Online in 2007.[10][11]

Merritt covered the United States v. Libby trial on TalkLeft, and with Jane Hamsher and Marcy Wheeler, was among the first bloggers to receive fully accredited media passes to a U.S. federal trial and during which they also appeared on for a round up summarizing each day's trial events. Her blog posts on the Lewis "Scooter" Libby trial appeared in FireDogLake and The Huffington Post.[12] On August 2, 2007, Merritt moderated a panel discussion at the 2007 YearlyKos Convention, featuring Christy Hardin Smith of Jane Hamsher's Firedoglake and Marcy Wheeler of The Next Hurrah, relating their experiences "liveblogging" the Libby trial. The panel also included Sheldon L. Snook, Chief of Staff to the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, who was "the court official in charge of news media at the Libby trial."[13][14][15]

TalkLeft was accredited as a national blog at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, held in Denver, Colorado, from August 25 through 28, 2008,[16] posting photographs of celebrities from both the Pepsi Center and various other convention venues in Denver and cross-links to other bloggers' reports and photographs.[17] Recently, she has consolidated spaces on TalkLeft for archived and ongoing discussion board topics such as the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case and the shooting of Trayvon Martin.

In addition to blogging at The Huffington Post and for Elevated Voices, published in 5280: Denver's Mile High Magazine, Merritt has guest blogged for Eric Alterman's Altercation. She has also occasionally served as a guest columnist for newspapers such as the Rocky Mountain News,[18] and as a guest moderator for online discussions on legal issues for The Washington Post.[19] Merritt has also been featured in a number of online videos and podcasts in which she discusses legal and political issues, such as the Libby trial, the Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy, and Hillary Clinton.

Publications and filmographyEdit

  • Merritt, Jeralyn E. (co-author) USA Patriot Act of 2001: An Analysis (2002).
  • Was Justice Denied? Merritt appeared as a member of the legal team in a feature-length documentary film re-examining two murder cases which the defendants claim resulted in wrongful convictions.[20]

Videos and webcastsEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Jeralyn E. Merritt, "Jeralyn E. Merritt - Lawyer Profile", LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory,, accessed September 29, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e Carrie Printz, "Alumni Profile: Jeralyn Merritt Founds Talkleft Political Blog", University of Denver Magazine (Fall 2006), accessed October 1, 2012; rpt. in "People: Merritt's Blog Covers Crime and Justice", DU Today, August 30, 2006, News.
  3. ^ United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, "Petition for Writ of Mandamus of Petitioner-Defendant, Timothy James McVeigh and Brief in Support, March 25, 1997", Case No. 96-CR-68-M, accessed March 1, 2007.
  4. ^ "Marshall Stern Legislative Achievement Award", in "Awards", National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, accessed October 1, 2012.
  5. ^ Jeralyn E. Merritt, "Achievements" and "Professional Activities", LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory,, accessed September 29, 2012.
  6. ^ "Jeralyn E. Merritt, Esq." at NORML, accessed September 29, 2012.
  7. ^ Jeralyn E. Merritt, "Media: Legal Analysis", LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory,, accessed September 29, 2012.
  8. ^ Jeralyn E. Merritt, "Seminars", LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory,, accessed September 29, 2012.
  9. ^ "Best of the Top 250 Blogs",, December 18, 2006, accessed March 1, 2007.
  10. ^ Talkleft Joins Newsweek's "The Ruckus", TalkLeft, February 15, 2008, accessed September 29, 2012.
  11. ^ ""The Ruckus"". Archived from the original on December 10, 2008. Retrieved 2012-09-29. , Newsweek, (archived via the Wayback Machine), accessed September 29, 2012. ("The Ruckus" did not survive the merger of Newsweek with The Daily Beast, now The Newsweek Daily Beast Company.)
  12. ^ "Author: Jeralyn Merritt", some archived posts in FDL and Huffpo (Index),, accessed September 29, 2012.
  13. ^ Jeralyn Merritt, "Announcing the YKos Panel on Live-Blogging the Scooter Libby Trial", TalkLeft, July 17, 2007, accessed July 17, 2007.
  14. ^ "Live Blogging the Libby Trial", program listing, YearlyKos convention, August 2, 2007, accessed July 28, 2007. [No longer accessible online; for past YearlyKos conventions, see Netroots Nation.]
  15. ^ "Jeralyn Merritt," in ""YearlyKos Convention Speakers"". Archived from the original on October 9, 2007. Retrieved 2012-10-01. , YearlyKos Convention: Building a Netroots Nation,, October 9, 2007, archived by the Internet Archive, accessed October 1, 2012.
  16. ^ ""Blogs Credentialed For the Convention" Archived 2008-06-25 at the Wayback Machine., (2008 Democratic National Convention Committee, Inc., Denver, Colorado), May 29, 2008, accessed August 27, 2008.
  17. ^ Jeralyn Merritt, "The Pepsi Center Tonight", TalkLeft, August 26, 2008, accessed October 13, 2008.
  18. ^ Jeralyn Merritt, "Scooter Libby Takes One for the Team", Rocky Mountain News, March 9, 2007, accessed September 30, 2012.
  19. ^ Jeralyn E. Merritt, et al., "Transcript: JonBenet Ramsey Murder Case", Washington Post, August 17, 2006, Live Online discussions (Live Q&As), accessed September 29, 2012.
  20. ^ Jeralyn Merritt biography on the Was Justice Denied? documentary film's website.


External linksEdit