Corey May Denied Retrial

Radley Balko reports that “Cory Maye has lost his motion for a new trial.”

Truly a shame. Radley has done some first-rate reporting on this one for months and, certainly, there were more than a few problems with the original trial.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts,
James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    Too bad. I believe the judge in question was on his way out, not having stood for re-election.

    Presumably there’ll be an appeal.

  2. Beldar says:

    I haven’t been following this case, but it looks to me like someone is very, very confused here.

    Mr. Balko’s post from this morning links to a .pdf of the actual ruling from yesterday. On the last page, it reads:

    It is therefore ordered and adjudged that Defendant’s Motion for a New Trial or for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict be DENIED in part and GRANTED in part consistent with the previous bench rulings.

    Earlier, at page 5 of the .pdf, the opinion states:

    As previously stated in its bench ruling this Court found defendant’s trial counsel was ineffective during the sentencing phase. In contrast to the guilt phase, this Court finds defendant’s counsel was clearly deficient….

    The reference to the “bench ruling” is almost certainly to page 235, line 18, to 236, line 5, in the September hearing in which the judge said, “I am going to go ahead and rule in favor of the defense on the issue and grant a new trial as to the sentencing phase. Mr. Maye can be removed from death row.”

    So unless I’m badly wrong, that means that Mr. Maye is indeed entitled to a new trial — but only on the penalty phase of his case. Mr. Balko’s post from September 24 seems to recognize the huge significance of that ruling, even if it’s less tha a complete victory:

    … Cory’s life is far from saved. Thursday’s ruling was certainly a victory, but we’re still a long way from real justice in this case. There’s still the possibility he could be again get death at the new sentencing trial. I think odds are against that happening, for reasons I’ll get into later, but it’s still a very real possibility.

    But then his posts from last night and this morning describe the actual order as if it were a denial of the entire motion for new trial. That’s either a sign of confusion or else inexcusably sloppy for someone who purports to be writing knowledgeably about a death penalty case.

    (I also disagree with Mr. Balko’s description of the written ruling as being “half-assed.” I’m claim to know a fair amount about ineffective assistance of counsel issues, inasmuch as I was clerking for the judge who wrote, and I helped draft, the original Fifth Circuit opinion in the crucial SCOTUS case, Strickland v. Washington, and I’ve since handled two Fifth Circuit appeals and a district court evidentiary hearing in a Texas capital murder case that turned on ineffective assistance. I certainly don’t know the record from this trial well enough to draw independent conclusions, but this trial judge’s analysis isn’t obviously flawed, and neither is he obviously predisposed toward the prosecution (or he’d not have granted the motion for new trial as to the penalty phase on ineffective assistance grounds).

    Moreover, Mr. Maye is just concluding his very first round of first-level challenges to the jury’s verdict. His case isn’t even ripe yet for the very first-level appeal because he hasn’t had a new trial yet on the sentencing phase. So he’s still got his direct appeals through the Mississippi state-court system; a certiorari possibility from that to the SCOTUS; then federal habeas possibilities through the federal district court in Mississippi, the Fifth Circuit, and again on cert to the SCOTUS. The fat lady hasn’t even started warming up.