Mississippi Supreme Court To Hear Cory Maye Case

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Yesterday, the Mississippi Supreme Court granted petitions for certiorari to both sides in the Cory Maye case.

Maye was convicted of capital murder in 2002 for shooting and killing police officer Ron Jones during a 2001 drug raid on Maye’s home. Maye says he didn’t now the men breaking into his home were police. Last year, the Mississippi Court of Appeals granted Maye a new trial on a claim that he should have been permitted to move the trial back to the country where the alleged crime was committed after his trial attorney requested it be moved to another county, then thought better of that request. That ruling dismissed some of his Maye’s other claims, but also neglected to address others. The state appealed the court’s ruling for a new trial on the venue claim. Once they did, Maye’s attorneys filed their own appeal, asking the court to address the other issues the appeals court dismissed or declined to discuss.

The Mississippi State Supreme Court has a pretty high rate of reversal when it takes up cases from the Mississippi Court of Appeals, which would seem to be bad news for Maye. But this case is more complex. The only thing that’s clear at this point is that the court is divided.

Looking at the votes to grant cert, four justices granted cert only to Maye’s claims. Three justices voted only to grant cert to the state’s claims. One justice voted to hear both, and one voted to hear neither. That makes for some complicated reading of the tea leaves.

The court could do several things, here. It could simply uphold the appeals court ruling and send the case back to Jefferson Davis County for a new trial. It could overturn on the venue issue, but grant a new trial on a different claim. It could both uphold the appeals court and rule in Maye’s favor on additional claims, which could limit the way the state is permitted to present its case at the new trial. Or, of course, it could overrule the appeals court, dismiss all of Maye’s claims, and Maye would be back to life without parole and no prospect of a new trial. There’s also a slim possibility that prior case law—particularly the case of Wheeler v. Mississippicould compel the court to actually order an acquittal.

So this may actually be good for Maye, though I suspect he and his attorneys would have preferred the certainty of the court refusing cert and proceeding directly to the new trial.

My 2006 article on Maye’s story here. And here’s the award-winning Reason.tv documentary on Maye, Mississippi Drug War Blues.


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15 Responses to “Mississippi Supreme Court To Hear Cory Maye Case”

  1. #1 |  Aresen | 

    That is good news, tempered by the fact that we are talking about the Mississippi Supreme Court.

    Still, it is a tiny bit of hope.

    Thanks, Radley.

  2. #2 |  Charles | 

    It’s weird to me that we still have counties named after people who commit treason.

  3. #3 |  Charles | 

    Also, again, thanks Mr. Balko. You have done magnificent work on this case.

  4. #4 |  Darkefang | 

    So why hasn’t the NRA jumped all over this case, anyway? Using a gun to defend your home is right in their wheelhouse.

  5. #5 |  Joe | 

    Thank you Radley for seeking justice in this case.

    The good news is that Cory Maye has a competent legal defense team now, so they can properly address both the appeallate issues and the new trial, if necessary. It sounds like he has four votes in his favor and one vote possibly in his favor…that must be nerve wracking. Then again, there are important issues here which may be why the Mississippi Supremes are taking it.

    We can only hope and pray for the best.

  6. #6 |  Greg N. | 

    Those numbers, and the fact that Maye’s issues were also granted cert., make me a little more comfortable with this than when you first announced it. Let’s not forget that Cory’s got some pretty damn good lawyers working on his case. Beyond that, of course, he also has the truth. And as cynical as I am, I can’t help but think that still counts for something, even in Mississippi.

  7. #7 |  RWW | 

    LOL at the “treason” comment. But it’s great that something may be happening for Mr. Maye.

  8. #8 |  Andrew S. | 

    Unfortunately… ugh. I really hope this turns out well for Corey. But I’ve never had much luck seeing state Supreme Courts (or SCOTUS) care at all about silly things like justice.

    I blame Radley for this. My spirit’s repeatedly broken reading this blog. But he does such a necessary job showing this to the world.

  9. #9 |  EH | 

    @Darkefang: I imagine the NRA would like to stay as far away from this case as possible.

  10. #10 |  Mattocracy | 

    I hope his story is turned into a documentary at some point. I hope Sean Penn has nothing to do with it if it does.

  11. #11 |  Joe | 

    The NRA should get involved, but the unspoken theme is Cory Maye is in trouble because he had a gun and defended himself. So the NRA is avoiding it. Stupid. The argument should be the police should not be knocking down innocent people’s doors in the middle of the night.

    Cory Maye was not breaking the law. The gun was legally owned by him. He had the right to protect himself. If the NRA really cares about individual rights it might consider that warning about standing up for those whose individal rights are being oppressed.

    First they came for Cory Maye and I did nothing…

    Then they came for me.

  12. #12 |  Mattocracy | 

    @ Joe,

    “If the NRA really cares about individual rights it might consider that warning about standing up for those whose individal rights are being oppressed.”

    I hate to break it to you about the NRA…

  13. #13 |  EH | 

    Yeah, that’s a pretty big “if.” What if they don’t?

    The NRA should get involved, but the unspoken theme is Cory Maye is in trouble because he had a gun and defended himself. So the NRA is avoiding it. Stupid.

    We can say “should” all day long. Please describe a future where NRA equivocation doesn’t result in an epic shitstorm and an implosion of the NRA itself. I just don’t think they’re fundamentally capable of getting involved.

  14. #14 |  benEzra | 

    I do agree that the NRA should ideally weigh in on this, but I think I understand the pragmatic reasons why they haven’t chosen to do so. The MSM, the gun-control lobby, and authoritarian Third Way types in Congress regularly accuse them of supporting cop-killers for merely opposing bans on popular civilian guns and ammunition, so I can imagine the field day that the Bradyites would have if they weighed in on this one.

    Having said that, Cory Maye WAS a victim in this scenario, and what happened to him could have happened to any armed homeowner who found himself/herself confronting an unidentified, armed intruder in your child’s room in the middle of the night with no reason to believe the intruder might be the police. That is a nightmare scenario for a lot of us, as is evidenced by the interest in the case on gun boards, and I very much hope that this case results in (1) Mr. Maye’s freedom and (2) stricter rules for search warrants to protect both the police and innocent homeowners.

  15. #15 |  Stoney13 | 

    As an NRA member, I agree! The NRA SHOULD indeed be all over this case! if there was EVER a clear cut Castle Doctrine case this is it!

    Its WAY past time for Police Officers to be held to account! I don’t get the police at my house often, but when they come knocking, they address me as “sir”. They treat me with respect, and I do the same! Of course part of that respect might be the many firearms which I’m well known to own and keep loaded just for such occasions when those who would do my family, and myself violence might come calling! My proficiency with said firearms is no secret in my little town in The Mountains of North Carolina.

    The message is clear! Treat me with respect, and I treat you with respect! I’ll put the coffee pot on, pull out some doughnuts, and we’ll discuss it, like citizens are supposed to interact with law enforcement!

    Kick my door down at 5:00 in the morning, and you’ll be carried back across it at 5:15! And in North Carolina that’s LEGAL!

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