Justice For Cory Maye Posted by: Dale Franks
on Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Being away last week, I didn't notice this story from Radley Balko about Cory Maye, a black man who sits on Mississippi's death row for a "crime" for which he shouldn't even have been prosecuted, if Balko's account is true.
Mr. Maye lived in a duplex, and his next door neighbor was a known drug dealer. Police, serving a "no-knock" warrant at midnight, didn't realize the building was a duplex, and part of the team crashed through Mr. Mayes door, and then rushed into his bedroom, where Mr. Maye was sleeping along with his 18 month-old daughter.
Mr. May, abruptly woken by shouting men invading his home without warning in the dead of night, grabbed the pistol he kept by his bedside and opened fire. In so doing, he shot and killed one of the police officers, Ron Jones, who also happened to be the son of a local police chief.
Mr. maye, who had no police record, and who was not a subject of the warrant, was arrested, tried, and convicted of murder with special circumstances, and sentenced to die.
Radley Balko concludes—rightly in my view:
Prentiss, Mississippi clearly violated Maye's civil rights the moment its cops needlessly and recklessly stormed his home in the middle of the night. The state of Mississippi is about to add a perverse twist to that violation by executing Maye for daring to defend himself.
Since I have no children in my home, I keep at all times a loaded Glock .40 near at hand. If, in the middle of the night, stange men woke me up by bursting into my home, whithout clearly identifying themselves as police officers, I would almost certainly open fire on them, just as Mr. Maye did, and, as far as I'm concerned, would be perfectly justified in doing so.
CBS News' Public Eye blog has also picked up on this, and notes that, while the Mainstream Media spared nothing in their coverage of Stanley "Tookie" Williams, an evil man who, if anyone does, deserved to be executed, almost nothing at all has been written about Mr. Maye's case.
I also note that this is a perfectly predictable result of the drug war. "No-knock" warrants are a disaster waiting to happen, and this is certainly not the first time that police have used such warrants to raid the wrong house, nor is it the first time that law-abiding citizens have exchanged gunfire with the police as a result. It is, however, as far as I know, the first time a citizen has been convicted of a capital crime for defending his home against such outrages.
This is certainly a tragedy for everyone involved, but the fault lies entirely with the police officers who broke into the wrong home.
The police, of course, say that they properly identified themselves, but Mr. Maye—cruelly and viciously—opened fire on them anyway. Uh huh. I know what goes on when a warrant is served, and with all the yelling and screaming of "Let me see your f*ckin' hands!", the occasional "Police officers!" kinda gets lost in the confusion. And, when you roust somebody out of bed in the middle of the night, it's asking a bit much that they snap instantly awake, and clearly understand what all the yelling's about.
If you wake me up by busting into my house in the middle of the night, I can pretty much guarantee that my first response will be to open fire, and to conduct inquiries at a later time.
UPDATE: Curiouser and curiouser. Not having yet seen the actual warrant, I don't know if Mr. Mayes' residence was listed on it or not. But, again, there seems to have been some confusdion about the warrant, since apparently Mr. Mayes does not appear on it. Radley Balko recounts his conversation the the Jeff Davis County Clerk about the warrant:
I was a little anxious about what the warrant said, so on a whim, I asked if she could take a quick look at it for me. The conversation went something like this:
Her: You want me to read the whole thing? It's very long.
Me: No, that's okay. I just have a hunch about what's in it that I was hoping you could check out for me.
Her: What would you like me to look for?
Me: Are you familiar with the Cory Maye case?
Her: Oh, yes. I know what happened.
Me: My guess is that you'll find the name of Jaimie Wilson on that warrant, but you won't find the name of Cory Maye. Could you check to satisfy my curiosity before you send me a copy?
Her: Okay. Let's see.... Jaimie....
Her: Yes, now I see his name is on the warrant. Jaimie Wilson.
Me: Now look for Cory Maye.
Me: Corey Maye?
Me: Is he in there anywhere?
Her: Oh my.
I haven't yet seen the warrant myself. But the clerk confirmed to me over the pohne that Cory Maye's name wasn't anywhere on it.
There are two accounts, one that says Mr. Mayes residence wasn't on the warrant, and one that says it was. So, let's take a look at the warrant.
However, if Mr. Mayes' name is not on the warrant, even if his residence is, then I am mightily curious as to the Probable Cause for a search warrant of an apartment that the police did not know belonged to Mr. Mayes. Either they thought the apartment was part of the suspect's residence, or there is a fundamental problem with the specificity of the warrant.
The thing is, it makes no difference. Even if they had mistakenly thought Mr. Mayes was a suspect, and executed the warrant in good faith, the injustice to Mr. Mayes would be every bit as great.
The problem remains the same. In fact, in a very similar case about 10 years ago, the police were given a false tip by a confidential informant, and served a late-night, no-knock warrant at the suburban home of a law abiding, middle-class white family. When they burst in, the husband exchanged shots with the police, during the course of which, he was badly wounded.
Again, the fundamental problem is the execution, in the dead of night, of no-knock warrants. Inevitably, this practice will result in the police mistakenly entering the home of an armed, law abiding citizen, which will cause an exchange of gunfire. The likelihood is quite high that the police, or the innocent homeowner, or his family, will be wounded or killed. In point of fact, police, in many jurisdictions all over the country, have made precisely this same mistake.
The fault still remains that of the police who inadvertently entered the wrong home, even acting on good faith. So, whether or not the police knew the dwelling was a duplex, and had a search warrant authorizing them to enter, is of primarily academic, not practical, interest. The practice of executing no-knock warrants in the dead of night is a fundamentally dangerous one to both the police and the citizenry.
In this case, if the warrant does not specify the apartment as belonging to Mr. Mayes, then I have serious doubts about it's validity, unless it specifies that both parts of the duplex were thought to be that of the suspect. If that is the case then the warrant, while valid, was incorrect. If not, then who's apartment, precisely, did the police think they were going to search, and under what theory of Probable Cause were they searching it? UPDATE II: Another curious thing:
Officer Ron Jones the sole officer who conducted the investigation that led to the raids. Because of this, history will never know the exact details of his investigation or the identity of his confidential informant. Jones apparently kept no records of his investigation into Maye or Smith. According to DA Buddy McDonald, all record of the investigation “died with Officer Jones.”
Based on the information included in the warrant affidavits, it appears Jones made no effort to identify Maye, to make a controlled drug buy from Maye to corroborate the informant’s story, or to do a criminal background check on Maye. There is no evidence indicating that Jones knew the identify of the person occupying Maye’s apartment.
The legitimacy of the warrant for Maye’s residence is questioned by some. It appears to have been issued solely on the word of a confidential informant, who says he spotted marijuana in the apartment. Some suggest that if the warrant was illegitimate, police should never have broken down Maye’s door. If it was legitimate, they’d still have to have clearly announced themselves, and given Maye time to answer the door, for him to be guilty of capital murder.
Essentially, apart from whatever information is contained in the warrant, we will never know exactly what Officer Jones did, if anything, to ensure the warrant was factually correct.
Officer Jones, by the way, was not a member of the drug task force that conducted the raid. He was a uniformed K-9 patrol officer. So, why he initiated this investigation, without any apparent assistance of narcotics detectives, will remain a mystery as well. Apparently, he had a lot of free time between taking radio calls.
I also note with interest how the Hollywood crowd got all google-eyed over an evil bastard like Tookie, but seem not to have any compassion for Mr. Maye. It's an odd way in which they go about choosing their causes celebre.
Volokh Conspiracy has gootten into this at length. If you go back and reread the original Balko post, he has updated it to include the fact that they did have a warrant for both sides of the duplex. One would also note that the officer shot was the son of the Chief of Police.
Still, I would hope they would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt he knew he was killing a police officer when he fired the gun before they returned a death sentence.
I share your disbelief in comparing the lefts rage regarding the fate of this man with that of a killer and gang founder in Tookie Williams (who never bothered to show remorse).
Where is Sean Penn? The ACLU? Why is it that the only place I’ve read about this man’s fate are on right-leaning and/or libertarian blogs? Heck, where are all those random posters from yesterday that raised a fuss for Williams? Why no fuss for Maye, who committed no crime other defending himself?
Friggin’ typical of the left - All hat, no cattle (as we say in Texas...)
Dale, you should really correct the body of your post with respect to the police knowing about the duplex and having a warrant, just for the sake of accuracy. It’s one thing if the police entered the wrong dwelling and got shot, and another altogether if they had a valid premise for being there. I don’t think it necessarily changes anything other than the moral indignation elicited from telling the story.
And yet a hundred cases like this and you cannot convince the "drug Warriors" of the futility of all this crap. BTW Dont hold your breath for guys like Mike Farrel and Sean Penn, this guy used a handgun to protect himself, and that is the ultimate evil to the Hollywood left.
Here’s where the left is in regard to this case? Right here: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_12/007761.php To save you the click, they are right where you are.
I found it ineresting reading the comments about Tookie. While some (many?) on death row are there seemingly out of the blue, a guy like Tookie almost certainly did something in his day that merited the death penalty.
But it seems to me that part of the foundation of libertarianism is a distrust of government to get anything right. Maybe the "broken clocks are right twice a day rule" applies to Tookie, but ultimately, in Illinois for example, there are lots of problems with innocent people winding up on death row.
So why would a libertarian support the death penalty?
My guess is the media took interest in Tookie’s case because he is a celebrity of sorts. Or, maybe the media isn’t that liberal after all, and they thought it would be amusing to watch all these anti-death-penalty types try to defend someone notorious like Tookie. But mostly, I think it was because he is a celebrity of sorts, and he is somewhat well spoken, for a guy on death row, and there was the human interst aspect of redemption. It seems to me all the execution stories that get into the news are about people who found God in prison. That is, as long as they aren’t busy covering an abducted blond girl. Does anyone look for serious stories in our Main Stream Media?
In regard to the ACLU, is there precident in this case? I wonder if the ACLU might have already tried to fight no-knock warrants and lost?
Let’s not get too excited yet. Mr. Maye has yet to prove that he is a useful member of society. As soon as he writes a children’s book about how wrong he was to own a firearm or assume he had the right to defend himself and his family celebrities will flock to his side. After all, had he been properly submissive this probably would not have happened. The price of being uppity.
Actually, they’re both as bad. The practice itself is fundamentally flawed, and tragedies like this are inevitable when this type of tactic is used.
Agreed, which is all the more reason to get the story straight and not have it turn into some sort of mythic tale. The facts as they actually are should be enough to set up the real issue: that "No Knock" warrants create a deadly conflict with respect to competing property rights, and place residents in the precarious position of having to ascertain who intruders truly are before defending themselves and their families.
To be fair to the left, I first read of this on Kos yeaterday. Although one would have thought publicity during the trial might have been more effective in assuring the justice of a black man being tried in Mississippi for killing the police chief’s son.
Tell me, have police ever gotten the wrong guy on other crimes? Do we stop making laws because police will screw them up?
The cops screwed up, certainly, and Maye should be a free man, No question. But to blame this on a law, or the lack of one is way off the mark.
I’m putting the blame on the existence of "no-knock" warrants, which have been part of the war on drugs. Without that, the police would have banged at his door, said, "Police, open up!", and Maye wouldn’t have shot anyone.
Because there is no constitutional basis for the war on drugs, the war on drugs should be opposed. Because it is contrary to the whole of human history that it can succeed, the war on drugs should be opposed.
Because the war on drugs gives police more chances to screw up, which they will inevitably do from time to time, and because their screw ups generally have political cover, the war on drugs should be opposed.
Additionally, "no knock" warrants place police officers in danger of being shot dead by well meaning homeowners, so they should never—as in this case—be granted willy nilly.
The incompetence of the police produced this death, they screwed up in almost every way they could. The police said they announced themselves in such a way that Cory Maye should have heard them, but it is their word against his that he did. In his every action during the raid, Cory Mayer never acted in a way inconsistent with the idea he was defending his home. The jury, to every known opinion, made a decision of guilt based on everything but the evidence.
He should at worst let go with time served, and at best pardoned entirely.
I would argue that the whole case developed because of a lack of enforcement of those drug laws in the area to the point where such extreme measures were necessary to get the situation back under control. I would further suggest that Cory Maye, though he would have been wise to keep one to hand, would not have needed so badly, a gun close at hand to defend his premises had those drug laws been more seriously and vigorously enforced. Had those laws been so enforced, the establishment that the police were looking for would not have existed in the first place. This is a case, plain and simple, of the police not doing their job, for whatever reason, and then screwing it up totally when I finally got around to doing the job.
We do agree, however, that Maye should be a free man, today.
But again, I ask; : Do we stop creating laws, do we stop enforcing the laws because of the fallibility of its enforcers?
That said, there is such a thing as misapplied law, as in this case. When law is misapplied, even when the law itself is just, injustices occur. That, supposedly, is why we have the judicial system in this country; to prevent such injustices.
As I’ve said several times, law is simply a tool. Ideally, it is the reflection of the morality of the people living under it. I have strong suspicions this morning that most people looking at this case do not feel that the actions of the government in this case, as regards the charges against Maye, reflects their morality.
And, I would submit that as such, if in fact this particular application of the death penalty case does not get overturned, the law enforcement groups, the state and local governments, and the Federal government, have all lost the moral authority to lead. They’ve let law prevail over justice.
"But again, I ask; : Do we stop creating laws, do we stop enforcing the laws because of the fallibility of its enforcers?"
And his question is beside the point. We stop creating laws when there is no basis for them in constitution; else, what words the legislators cause to be written into the law books are not laws at all.
Very sincerely yours, Tom Perkins, ml, msl, & pfpp
Bithead, the constitution does not address speed limits, however, local charters and state constitutions do as a general rule. It might be viewed that roads rec’v’g federal funds (presumably under the "post roads" grant of authority) can be made dependent on federal restrictions, however, the feds have generally left that up to the states.
Where is the grant of authority for the DEA or ATF*?
*A good argument can be made that the ATF could exist as an adjunct of the Treasury, collecting excise taxes on alcohol, tobbacco, and firearms—but not as a subterfuge for the prohibition of the same.
So, no cops have been killed while executing warrants on other crimes?
I never said that, and it’s really bad argument form for you to even state such a thing. What I am saying is that in this particular case, Maye would have known that the people at his door were police officers and wouldn’t have shot in what he thought was self-defense.
If you can’t see that, then there’s no point in arguing this further.
Not really. Wanna see bad form? Blaming a law for what was merely a police screwup. Don’t blame the law for their incompetence in enforcing it.
My goodness, you have trouble following the logic here. If it weren’t for the no-knock warrant law, the cops would have had to identify themselves at the door of Maye’s dwelling before he opened the door. Even if the cops were at the wrong address, Maye would have known from the start that it was the police at his door, and not some random set of hoodlums breaking into his house. Is this part clear to you? Or are you taking mkultra lessons?
(Shrug) I would have thought that self-evident; These are not addressed by the constitution, either. What status does this give them? In your opinion, should these also be abolished on that same basis as you cite?
Seems to me complaining about the drug laws is an uneeded diversion from the main issue; The cops were operating outside the limits of the warrant, thus illegally, and thus did the homeowner have every right... indeed a duty... to respond as he did.
An interesting question occurrs to me just now; What, I wonder, would Mr. Maye have thought of the police actions had they actually gotten it right? My guess is he’d have approved of getting the drug house, and the associated danger, out of his building.
Bithead, it may be that the national government has authority to impose speed limits on roads it pays for to some degree. It has a grant of authority to do this in conjunction with the "neccessary and proper" clause and the "post roads" clause. However, it has no general authority to regulate or prohibit the possession of things, for example recreational pharmaceuticals, in fact it is prohibited from doing so under amendments 5-"just compensation", amendment 9-all unenumerated rights are available to the people, until a specific grant of authority is made by amendment, and modified by the 14th amendment, the states may only restrict private property ownership if their constitutions so enumerate and those consitutions do not conflict with the enumerated rights of the national constitutions.
Alcohol could only be prohibited by the national government by amendment, where is the amendment that excuses the existence of the DEA?
"And given the criminals the chance to escape, destroy evidence and whatnot. Unacceptable."
Only to those with a taste for enforcing unconstitutional laws with jack boot tactics.
Tell that to the people living in that area, Tom. See, there’s the problem; what of THEIR rights?
However, it has no general authority to regulate or prohibit the possession of things, for example recreational pharmaceuticals,
And here, you’ve wandered directly where I’d wanted you to.
Here’s the thing; This wasn’t a federal bust, was it? State and local laws were being enforced.. or, more correctly, fouled up, by the local constabulary. If the laws being enforced were not federal, the only place the US constitution applies is the tenth amendment, where those chocies were left to the individual states.
"Here’s the thing; This wasn’t a federal bust, was it? State and local laws were being enforced.. or, more correctly, fouled up, by the local constabulary. If the laws being enforced were not federal, the only place the US constitution applies is the tenth amendment, where those chocies were left to the individual states.
Cheers yes, but not for you. There are no anti-drug task forces in this country I have ever heard of which are not operating in part with federal funds and intelligence. None. Also, unless the state constitution has a specific authorization for the prohibition of drugs, it is afoul of the garrantee of freedom to earn property found in the national constitution.
And no, the ninth amendment secures to all individuals the right to do whatever they wish unless the local constitution is amended to permit the criminalization of the exercise of the right, and that criminalization is not unconstitutional at the national level.
Absent a national amendment to the contrary, in fact, we retain all rights to property present at the founding, which includes by default the rights to recreational drugs. The national constitution says, if the government wants to take our property, then they have to pay us for it. No such payments are authorized for drugs, so they can’t lawfully take them—that applies at the national and state level since both the 14th amendment and the "takings" clause are in the national constitution.
As for the "rights" of the other people living in the area, they don’t have a right to control what recreational pharmaceuticals another person enjoys. They can make injurious behaviors towards other people and the their property a criminal act, but if someone isn’t so bothering them, then they have no right to interfere with another persons life.
This is a complete outrage and should not be tolerated anywhere in our so called "Free Nation". This is just not right. I think that a petition should be organized so this man does not have to suffer a death that clearly goes against the Bill of Rights. IF you would like to join me on the quest for justice please Email me. We, the people, need to change this. The second ammendment is pointless if you cannot even protect yourself whith the arms that you have.