Here’s the ruling from Judge Michael Eubanks denying Cory Maye’s motion for a new trial.
After hundreds of pages of testimony, several hundred pages in briefs, two-plus days of hearings, expert witnesses, and the defense team’s discovery of the racist, red-neck informant, Eubanks dismissed the case in all of eight pages. Double spaced.
His dismissal of the Wheeler case is particularly disappointing. I’ve analyzed Wheeler’s impact on this case before. But here’s the gist: Wheeler was approached by two uniformed officers in broad daylight. He engaged in a struggle with them, and managed to wrestle the gun away from one. He then fired that gun at a third officer in the doorway, killing her. The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that as a matter of law, Wheeler couldn’t have known the third officer in the doorway was a police officer, and therefore couldn’t be convicted of capital murder.
In Cory’s case, the raid took place at night. He had been sleeping. Officer Jones was shot seconds after entering Cory’s home, not after any sort of struggle. When Wheeler learned the officers in his home were cops, he fought them. When Maye learned the men raiding his home were cops, he surrendered. The officers in Wheeler’s home were wearing uniforms. Officer Ron Jones was wearing a dark shirt, vest, and pants. The only marking on the uniform was a small police patch on the sleeves.
From these two sets of facts, Judge Eubanks concluded that Cory had more reason to know that Officer Jones was a police officer than Wheeler. It’s an absurd reading of the two cases.
The dismissal of the ineffective assistance of counsel motion is equally ridiculous, though I do understand that this is a much tougher motion to win. Still, Rhonda Cooper’s inexplicable initial decision to move the trial out of Jefferson Davis County almost certainly hurt Maye’s case, and probably cost him an acquittal. Likewise with her ineptitude in using the arraignment to get the officers involved in the raid on record early with their account of how it happened (especially so given that some officers’ account of the raid changed over time).
As for the informant, Eubanks seems rather nonchalant about the fact that there was something seriously wrong with the way that warrant was procured. Once again, we go back to this business about how the only thing that matters is that the warrant was legal. Only in this case, we don’t actually know whether it was legal, or whether the officer who obtained the warrant did so in good faith — because that officer was the first one in the door, and subsequently shot and killed. What we do know is that it was obtained based on the word of an admitted bigot, that the bigot’s slightly more credible brother accompanied him on the buy that led to the raid, and that said brother offered an account of the evening that strongly suggests Officer Jones did indeed act in bad faith in procuring this particular search warrant.
We also know that the town of Prentiss has done everything in its power to deny Cory Maye a fair crack at justice, including firing his lawyer as the town’s public defender. And we know that Cory had no prior criminal record. And that there’s no evidence whatsoever suggesting he’s a drug dealer.
How a judge can look at all of this, shrug, then dash off an eight-page opinion essentially stating that Maye deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison is beyond me. Eubanks is retiring, now.
A rather dishonorable way to go out, if you ask me.