Cory Maye’s attorneys have filed their brief in their motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdice or a new trial. The hearing takes place next month.
If you’ve read anything at all about this case, I’d urge you to take a look at the brief. I realize that a brief’s legal effectiveness is a very different thing than its general pursuasiveness, particularly briefs filed in almost perfunctory post-trial motions like this one. Since I’m not really qualified to comment on its legal merits, I’ll keep my comments limited to its general pursuasiveness.
To that end, it’s devastating. The difference between the top-notch legal representation Cory Maye has now and the minimal representation he had at trial is striking (and frightening, given the stakes). I can’t see anyone reading this thing through and still believing that Maye is the slightest bit guilty, much less that he should be executed. At worst, you could perhaps make the case that Maye acted recklessly, and might have been tried for manslaughter. I wouldn’t agree. But I probably wouln’t be making trips to Mississippi to investigate, or blathering endlessly on my blog, either. Of course, I still think the guy should not only be released from prison, but compensated.
Covington and Burling hired their own forensic expert and their own crime scene investigator to reexamine the autopsy on Ron Jones, the evidence at the scene of the crime, and a number of pieces of evidence that were never brought up at trial, including Jones’ clothing. Both of Covington’s experts have impeccable bona fides. As for the prosecution’s forensics witness, Dr. Steven Hayne, there’s plenty of reason to find him suspect. I’ll get into that a bit later. In any case, I think the exhibits they’ve submitted with the brief leave Dr. Hayne’s testimony in tatters.
A few new items from the brief that jump out at me:
It also makes Jamie Smith’s disappearance — or rather, the fact that officials in Prentiss were so lax in keeping him around — all the more suspicious. Why would they let the only witnesses to a cop’s death, and a guy with a history of drug dealing, skip town so easily?
I don’t know if the brief will win the guy a new trial. But it’s an outstanding piece of pursuasive writing. Bob Evans, the Covington and Burling team, and Orin Kerr deserve a ton of credit for the work they’ve done.