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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: Update III: The Plight of Cory Maye

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Update III: The Plight of Cory Maye

While pointy-headed intellectuals around the world argue whether or not Saddam Hussein received a fair trial or was executed in a dignified manner, little or no mention has been made of an injustice which has occurred in this country. Unless you have read about this case in a blog somewhere, you probably have never heard the name of Cory Maye. Cory Maye, a young man who was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death (but off death row for now pending a new sentencing trial) for shooting a person who he believed to be an unlawful intruder who turned out to be a police officer raiding his home in the dark of night with a search warrant issued on dubious grounds. If you are unfamiliar with the details of this case, please read this post, this post, and this post before you read any further…

Just over five years since this tragic incident, Judge Eubanks has ruled that Maye’s court-appointed lawyer Rhonda Cooper was in-fact competent in her defense of Maye in the guilt phase of the trial (but incompetent in the sentencing phase which is the reason he will be granted a new sentencing trial). The fact that Cooper knowingly chose not to show the jury exculpatory evidence was available at that time that would have supported Maye’s testimony was not enough for Judge Eubanks to render Cooper incompetent. Because Cooper was considered competent, Maye receives no new trial to present invaluable evidence to a new jury.

Such is the tragedy of our so-called criminal justice system. Is it possible that Maye would be a free man today if he had the means to pay for a decent defense lawyer? I tend to believe so. What chance for justice does someone really have when being represented by a court-appointed lawyer in a murder trial? Because of the interests of justice, he now has the council of a quality legal team but unfortunately, it may be too late.

Not all hope is lost for Cory Maye, however. He can apparently make appeals to the Mississippi Supreme Court and their may be other routes he can go in federal courts. I was hopeful that this case would not have to go that far before one judge with a shred of common sense would see a need for at a minimum, a new trial.

Before we criticize Iraq’s criminal justice system with moral indignation, perhaps we should look at fixing our own. There is much to be desired in our criminal justice system; just ask a man named Cory Maye who will most likely unjustly spend the rest of his life in prison here in America for the crime of protecting his home, his family, and for being too poor to afford a quality attorney.

As always, be sure to read Radley Balko’s Cory Maye page for all of the latest developments (with much more detail than I provided in this post).


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