Where the Maye Case Stands

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

I got an email this morning accusing me of misleading people in the Cory Maye updates below. I’m not sure I agree, and it wasn’t deliberate if I did, but I’m happy to set things straight.

So just for the record: The ruling Friday night denied Maye a new guilt phase of his trial. He will still get a new trial on the sentencing phase. So he is still off of death row, at least for now. And given that the guilt phase would likely take place in Jefferson Davis County, there’s a pretty good chance he’ll stay off death row. What yesterday’s ruling basically means is that unless Maye wins at the Mississippi Supreme Court, or somewhere in his federal appeals process, he’ll likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

The email also suggested I was too hard on Judge Eubanks because he did, after all, grant Maye a new sentencing trial. I guess that’s a subjective call. The ineffective assistance of counsel ruling at the sentencing phase was a no-brainer. If you’ll remember, Rhonda Cooper actually admitted to Eubanks during the sentencing trial that she wasn’t prepared, saying “I didn’t think it would get this far.” It’s also important to remember that Cooper made that admission the same day the initial verdict came back. Which means Cooper went from competent to incompetent in a matter of hours.

Eubanks still thinks Maye spending his life in prison is a just outcome for this case. I disagree, and think that his barely-argued ruling didn’t do justice to the pages of evidence and testimony put forth by Cory Maye’s lawyers over the last few months.

In any case, for clarification, Friday’s ruling means Cory won’t get any relief from the trial judge on the actual trial. He will still be getting a new sentencing trial. And he still has a long road of appeals ahead of him. But that still doesn’t make Friday’s ruling right or just.

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