WASHINGTON, DC, July 5, 2011 — Covington & Burling LLP recently helped secure a reduced charge for pro bono client and former Mississippi death row inmate Cory Maye.
Mr. Maye’s case gained considerable media attention in the years following his conviction, and his story was the subject of an award-winning 2008 documentary entitled Mississippi Drug War Blues: The Case of Cory Maye. After successfully appealing a capital murder conviction, Mr. Maye entered a guilty plea of the lesser charge of negligent homicide in exchange for a 10-year prison sentence. With credit for time already served, Mr. Maye is expected to be released from prison within days.
Mr. Maye was arrested in December 2001 after police in Prentiss, Mississippi conducted a raid on the duplex apartment where he lived with his infant daughter. The police were acting pursuant to two separate search warrants based on identical allegations. The warrant used to justify entering Mr. Maye’s apartment did not identify him and was executed by an ad hoc task force of armed officers who charged into a darkened room where Mr. Maye was with his sleeping daughter. Believing an intruder entered his house, Mr. Maye fired shots, one of which fatally wounded officer Ron Jones.
Mr. Maye, who had no prior criminal record, was charged with capital murder. He maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings, testifying that he had not knowingly fired upon a police officer. In November 2009, Mr. Maye’s legal team successfully appealed his conviction in the Mississippi Court of Appeals. The State of Mississippi appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court, but in December 2010, that court also granted Mr. Maye a new trial. The Supreme Court held that the trial court had improperly refused a jury instruction that would have highlighted Mr. Maye’s legal right to act in defense of his infant daughter on the night of the shooting.
Mr. Maye’s legal team included partner Michael Labson and associates Anna St. John, Alisa Jijon, Jonathan Cohen and David Gorlin from Covington; Bob Evans (Mississippi), Abram Pafford of Pafford Lawrence & Ross (Lynchburg, Virginia), Benjamin Vernia of the Vernia Law Firm (Washington, D.C.), and Professor Jessica Gabel of the Georgia State University School of Law.