Mississippi Drug War Blues: Cory Maye

Reason has a new documentary, Mississippi Drug War Blues, about Cory Maye.

"Mississippi Drug War Blues" is a story about the intersection of race (Maye is black and Jones was white); the war on drugs; the disturbing increase in the militarization of police tactics; and systemic flaws in the criminal justice and expert-testimony systems.

It is a tragedy in which one man is dead and another may spend his life in prison.

As a result of the efforts of Reason Senior Editor Radley Balko, Cory Maye received new legal representation and his death sentence was changed to life in prison without parole. The legal fight for relief for Cory goes on. A clip from the documentary and status update is below the fold.

Status update:

If the Mississippi State Court of Appeals denies Maye relief, he'll then appeal to the Mississippi State Supreme Court. If he's again denied relief, he'll begin his federal appeal process in the United States District Court in the Southern District of Mississippi, and then to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

In early 2008, a state district court judge in Mississippi denied attempts by Maye's attorneys to bring in Dr. Steven Hayne for questioning (Hayne, who performed the autopsy of Ron Jones, was a key witness for the prosecution). Maye's lawyers had hoped to question Hayne under oath about recent revelations about Hayne's questionable autopsy procedures and questionable credentials, first reported in reason, then touted by the Innocence Project and its Mississippi chapter. Maye's lawyers do plan raise their concerns about Hayne in the appeal.

Cory Maye is currently housed in Unit 32, the high-security wing at Mississippi's Parchman Penitentiary. His daughter Ta'Corrianna lives in Covington, Louisiana with her mother Chanteal Longino. His son Cory, Jr. lives in Jackson, Mississippi.

See also, TChris' and my prior posts:

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    Drug War Blues... (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by kdog on Thu May 08, 2008 at 10:28:06 PM EST
    A war on our own people...it's killed cops, gangsters, good guys, bad guys, innocent random people.  People rotting in cages.  

    How could it not give you the blues...

    Great Work Radley Balko! (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by squeaky on Fri May 09, 2008 at 12:47:14 AM EST

    Whew* (none / 0) (#1)
    by AnninCA on Thu May 08, 2008 at 11:17:20 AM EST
    I'm so tired of this problem.  I really, really wish the death penalty had been put on permanent freeze by the courts.

    The politics in crime prosecution are just where the system really gets to me.

    I don't know that life in prison is much better (none / 0) (#3)
    by dianem on Thu May 08, 2008 at 11:57:55 AM EST
    Somewhat better, yes, but the point here is not that this man was sentenced to death but that he was defending his home from an invasion and ended up in jail. The fact that the invasion was under a court order should not be relevant. The question is whether, in the panic, it could be reasonably expected that he knew that 1) the people invading his home were the police and 2) they meant him no harm. It seems that everybody is sympathetic to his plight, but the concern is to get him off death row not to clear him. I'd rather see him at home with his daughter. The fact that a police officer was killed was tragic, but do we have to destroy another life in retribution? If he is innocent, as seems possible, then we should be railing against the injustice of his conviction, not his sentence.

    To me, it all boils down (none / 0) (#4)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu May 08, 2008 at 01:52:10 PM EST
    to whether Maye knew, or reasonably should have known, that the guys busting down his doors were LE officers.

    That issue seems to balance on whether the LE "announced" before they broke into Maye's apartment.

    If they did, then Maye should pay the price for knowingly slaying a LE officer.

    If LE didn't announce, then Maye has every right to defend his home and child against unidentified intruders.

    Not surprisingly, Maye claims LE didn't announce and LE claims they did.


    Sarc (1.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Patrick on Thu May 08, 2008 at 02:31:17 PM EST
    I believe that question has been answered repeatedly.  First it was the "no-knock" warrant that wasn't, then it was ad-hoc group of police who weren't, then they were again, now it's the ME who may or may not be a crank, but the cause of death in this case is not in question.  more smoke and mirrors.  

    Yep. (1.00 / 1) (#7)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu May 08, 2008 at 02:41:32 PM EST
    I thought maybe if I left enough unsaid that some people might spend some of their own time in researching the incident and then they'd have more invested in what they learn rather than just have someone else spoon-feed them the facts that they'd simply disregard because the facts didn't support their biases.

    Probably just a waste of time on my part...


    I hope (1.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Patrick on Thu May 08, 2008 at 03:06:42 PM EST
    people read the linked threads as well.   That shold clarify some of the misinformation that's out there.   I took the time to watch the video (Time I can never get back) it's well done, but it's pure propaganda, and it plays the race card very well.  Moore would be roud.

    If they want the truth, people should read the court transcripts.  They used to be available at a link on Balko's site, until the truth got too inconvenient.  Hey someone should use that as a movie title.  


    There is reasonable doubt (none / 0) (#10)
    by dianem on Thu May 08, 2008 at 04:01:33 PM EST
    I doubt that police always announce before they break into apartments. They wouldn't want to alert the suspect so that they could hide evidence or arm themselves. But in the absence of video, how do you prove it one way or the other? It's the word of a bunch of police officers v. the word of a criminal defendant. It's easy to see how a jury is likely to rule.

    What it comes down to for me is that I cannot see why this man would have endangered the life of his child by firing a gun at police officers, who were most certainly armed. I can see how he could fire defensively if he thought it was thugs in a home invasion, as a last resort to protect his child.


    There's also no (1.00 / 0) (#15)
    by Patrick on Thu May 08, 2008 at 06:58:44 PM EST
    argument that the police were outside his residence for some time, trying to find a way in.  I mean even the video depicts officers going to the front, then Officer Jones going to the back of the residence, trying to kick in the door, leaving and returning once another officer is sucessful in getting through the door.   And during this whole time, no one says anything?  No the police? Not Corey Maye, who claims to be in such fear for his life and his daughter's that he's willing to shoot someone he says he has no idea who?  That's difficult to believe as well.  

    And again, no mention that the gun Maye used to kill Officer Jones was stolen.  Even though apparently possession of a stolen gun in Mississippi isn't a crime according to some, I suspect that's a good enough motive for someone to worry about getting caught with it.  


    Mistake in title (none / 0) (#11)
    by dianem on Thu May 08, 2008 at 04:04:16 PM EST
    I meant to say "Is there reasonable doubt" not, "There is reasonable doubt"

    Yours is a valid point, (none / 0) (#13)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu May 08, 2008 at 04:46:24 PM EST
    in the cold light of 20-20 hindsight it does seem odd that Maye would do something so dumb.

    But, just to point out, police do always announce before breaking into a home, it's a pretty big part of the law. Unless the LE has a special "no knock" warrant, which is apparently not the case here.


    All for a hypothetical (none / 0) (#2)
    by jondee on Thu May 08, 2008 at 11:37:25 AM EST
    "large stash of marijuana" that could have been in one of two apartments.

    Ann, ya gotta be pro-lynching if you wanna carry a red state. Just ask the Clintons and other principaled tough-on-crime folk.

    Funny (none / 0) (#5)
    by Wile ECoyote on Thu May 08, 2008 at 01:53:24 PM EST
    thing you hear more about this tragedy from the Pro second amendment people than that of the liberals, or "creative class".

    The pro-gun and pro-reefer crowd.... (none / 0) (#20)
    by kdog on Fri May 09, 2008 at 08:44:20 AM EST
    liberty makes strange bedfellows...I take some heart in that.

    somewhat related question for Jeralyn (none / 0) (#12)
    by desmoinesdem on Thu May 08, 2008 at 04:30:19 PM EST
    or others with knowledge on this topic.

    A former city councilman of West Des Moines (suburb of Des Moines) was forced to resign last year after it emerged that he had stolen a truck, stolen drugs from a grocery store pharmacy, not paid rent or legal bills, etc.

    For stealing the truck, he got a deal to plead guilty of operating a vehicle without the owner's consent rather than a first-degree theft charge. He hasn't yet been sentenced on that count.

    For stealing the prescription drugs, he got a deferred judgment, two years of probation, was ordered to pay $750 in restitution, and must continue treatment for "an undisclosed mental health issue."

    More details here:


    My question is, how absurdly lenient is the arrangement for the 48-year-old white guy, compared to what a minority defendant would get?

    Radley (none / 0) (#14)
    by Patrick on Thu May 08, 2008 at 06:52:02 PM EST
    The transcripts and a bunch of other links were missing from your page for quite some time.  I can go back through the TL links and show you where one poster tried to look for them and they were gone if you's like, or you can do it yourself.  I haven't had the need or the desire to go back and find them since I've already read them.   I think they provide a better picture of what happened in this case than your biased opinion.  

    No, I don't deny it, the informant is a pig, pure and simple, but that doesn't mean his information was wrong.  Even Corey Maye said there was plenty of traffic all night at the other half of the duplex.   I'd say that goes towards corroborrating the informant, but he's still a pig.

    You've corrected the errors on your site, but allowed others to spread them and even commented on this site without correcting them, and you're supposed to be the expert on the case.  Yet did you correct T-Chris' use of the no-knock warrant?  No.  How about the all white jury?  Nope again.  I can go on, but it's pointless with you.  

    And please, having no factual errors doesn't mean something provides the whole picture or is an accurate recounting of all the details does it?  Kinda like what was it you did to me at your site?  Exaggerated for effect or something like that...

    Patrick (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Radley Balko on Thu May 08, 2008 at 09:44:42 PM EST
    There was a period of several days when I switched servers and was in the process of moving PDFs from one server to the other when some of the transcripts may not have been available.  You can check my archives.  My site went through a redesign at that time.

    It's telling that you would immediately attack my motives and attribute that very brief period to me taking them down because "the truth was inconvenient" or some such nonsense. I've made every document in the case available to anyone who wants to read them as soon as I could get them scanned in.  Did you actually check to see if the documents were available today before shooting your mouth off?  They've been back up for several months.

    I'm not going to re-debate all of the other issues with you.


    There really isn't anything to debate. (1.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Patrick on Thu May 08, 2008 at 10:48:34 PM EST
    I'm not going to re-debate all of the other issues with you.



    There really isnt anything to debate (none / 0) (#21)
    by jondee on Fri May 09, 2008 at 10:05:46 AM EST
    could've been the Mississippi state motto in regard to defendants like Corey Maye on many occasions.

    Not that that recurring phenomenon has any bearing on how this case played out.

    Plus, regardless of extenuating circumstances, supporters of Mr. Maye should be reminded that he didnt just kill a human being, he killed a sacred bull from the temple of Shiva: someone (anyone) always has to pay for that. Especially in places like Mississippi.


    The killing (none / 0) (#22)
    by Patrick on Fri May 09, 2008 at 10:29:33 AM EST
    of a cop is more serious.  That is part of the protections officers get for taking that job.   What we have here, which is undisputed, is that Maye picked up a gun and shot at someone he didn't take the time to identify.   Had a cop done that same thing, for same reasons Radley Balko claims Maye did it, he'd be calling for that cop's head.  But see it's different somehow.   Oh I know, the dirty drug war, and that's why Radley has to overlook the obvious hypocracy in his position.  

    Actually, (none / 0) (#23)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri May 09, 2008 at 11:26:34 AM EST
    What we have here, which is undisputed, is that Maye picked up a gun and shot at someone he didn't take the time to identify.  
    I'm not sure he was not sure who he was shooting at.

    What I was (none / 0) (#26)
    by Patrick on Sat May 10, 2008 at 12:07:00 PM EST
    trying to convey was the point that even if we took Balko's version of events at face value, (Something I don't think is even remotely close to the truth of the matter) at a minimum we have a person shooting without taking the time to figure out if the person they were shooting at was a danger to them.   If a cop did that, he would be prosecuted and Radley would be leading the charge.    

    Actually... (none / 0) (#24)
    by Radley Balko on Fri May 09, 2008 at 03:52:29 PM EST
    ...it's the law that imposes the double standard, not me.  Police who mistakenly kill people in these raids get enormous leeway (see cops who've gotten off after mistaking remote controls, cubs, a t-shirt, and the glint off a wristwatch, respectively, for guns, and killed unarmed people).  

    Prosecutors say these raids are volatile and dangerous, so they defer to the officers' judgment.  So why is it that trained officers who have the advantage of being the aggressors in these raids are allowed mistakes in judgments, but they people whose homes they're invading, whom they're waking up in the middle of the night, whom they're deliberately taking by surprise--don't get the same deference?

    Last year a North Carolina cop mistook the sound of a battering ram for a gun, and wrongly shot through the door of a home they were raiding, killing Peyton Strickland, an unarmed college student.  He wasn't charged.  Meanwhile, they're trying to press murder charges against Ryan Frederick in Chesapeake, Virginia for mistaking raiding officers for criminals, and shooting through the door and killing Det. Jarrod Shivers as they were trying to take down Frederick's door.  Frederick had no criminal record, and a misdemeanor amount of pot in his house.

    Why is it, Patrick, that cops can make mistakes that kill civilians with no charges, but civilians who are awoken to the terror of armed men barging into their homes who understandably mistake them for criminals get the book thrown at them?

    And why is it "different" when someone kills a cop?  Are cops' lives worth more than regular people's lives?

    Is your life worth more than mine, Patrick?


    Radley (none / 0) (#25)
    by Patrick on Sat May 10, 2008 at 12:04:33 PM EST
    I think my life worth more than yours to me, but then all I know of you is these debates.  

    As for your other question about why cops get more protections and perhaps the benfit of the doubt in more cases than the average person, well if you need my help figuring that out, you don't deserve to call yourself a journalist.  Nothing I can say will help you understand why.  I'm also harldy the person you're going to listen to with an open mind.