For those of you who are new to the story, Cory Maye is a prisoner on death row in the U.S. state of Mississippi. He was convicted of murder in the death of Prentiss police officer Ron W. Jones, during a drug raid in 2001. Maye pleaded not guilty at his trial, citing self-defense as the reason.
Radley Balkoto the story yesterday. Instead of describing it, I’ll cut and paste Balko’s posting of an e-mail from Bob Evans, Maye’s public defender:
Just found out this a.m. that the Town of Prentiss has “decided to go another route” pertaining to my position as town public defender. In other words, they have now made official what was intimated to me back in December and have fired me.
The explicit and sole reason given to me by the mayor was that my representation of Cory Maye was not to the liking of the aldermen. I guess it wasn’t to the mayor’s liking either since, to the best of my knowledge, he didn’t veto their decision. Of course, I have no doubt that it’s a politically popular decision among the Caucasians of Prentiss. But what in life is not, at least to some extent, political?
When apprised that this move was being contemplated, although I doubted that it would make any difference I requested the courtesy of being allowed to appear before the board to express my reasons for representing Cory. They did not deign to grant me this opportunity.
I have been Prentiss public defender officially (salaried) since February 1995 and unofficially for several years prior. During that time not one official complaint has been communicated to me about my performance. Of course, there have been many unofficial complaints about me “getting all those guilty people off.”
What it boils down to is something that I have known and personally observed about members of the “unwashed masses” for many years: When the Constitution and Bill of Rights are applied to benefit others, the right to counsel, due process, fair trial et al. are “technicalities”. Criminals get off on technicalities such as the 4th Amendment. Only when one of their asses is in a sling are these same documents “fundamental rights”.
But what the hell. Four hundred a month ain’t gonna bankrupt me. This decision, to me, is an indication that the “powers that be” actually believe that we can win Cory’s appeal. That is a refreshing thought. I have always liked the adage “He who laughs last laughs best.”
According to his site, Balko called the mayor and several council people to verify the story, and got the official run-around. Fortunately, Evans can still represent Maye, because he is also a county public defender. Maye is still on death row with what strongly appears to be a case of self-defense, and nobody (aside from the blogosphere) seems gives a damn about it. Props.