Roderick’s recent post (2006-01-06) reminded me: Cory Maye needs our help, and we need to keep eyes on his case. About a month ago, I mentioned the case of Cory Maye in the course of my commentary on the premeditated murder of Tookie Williams by the state of California. Maye was sentenced to die by poisoning on January 23, 2004. Now, as far as the death penalty is concerned, I just don’t care whether Maye is innocent or guilty. Innocent or guilty, the state of Mississippi has no right to kill him when he poses no threat; that’s premeditated murder, with or without the black hood and the Crown on the heads of those responsible. (See GT 2004-12-15: God damn it and GT 2005-12-13: Murder in the first for further discussion in the context of different cases.)
But there are good reasons to think that Maye is innocent, and that the crime of murdering him would be doubly foul. Radley Balko has been talking this up since discovering the case in early December. There are lots of legalistic worries about the conduct of the police and the progress of the trial. It’s important to keep track of those for the purposes of defending Maye’s life, but it’s also important to remember that the pretext on which the narco-cops were storming Maye’s house in the first place — the so-called War on Drugs — is itself a massive, systematic, and senseless paramilitary assault on innocent people, for committing the
crime of taking drugs without a permission slip — an act which is at worst foolish, perhaps a vice, but which can at worst hurt only themselves. The cops, in other words, had no damn right to storm Maye’s house, and the state of Mississippi couldn’t give them one even if they had complied with all the official paperwork (which it seems that they didn’t). Whether or not a judge wrote them a warrant that covered Maye’s home, they had no right to be there. Whether or not they knocked and identified themselves, they had no right to break into Maye’s house by force. And when an armed gang that has no right to be there invades your home without your permission and comes after you, you have a right to defend yourself, by force, if necessary. Balko’s right to say:
Maye’s case is an outrage. 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.
But it’s important to note that that’s true even if the police and D.A.’s version of the story were (as it almost certainly is not) true from beginning to end. The War on Drugs is indeed a war — but it’s a war on people, not substances, and those people have done nothing to deserve being attacked by the paramilitary forces of the State. The warriors are trying to make Cory Maye its latest casualty. They must be stopped.
WikiPedia’s article on Cory Maye summarizes the details of the case. There’s a new website, MayeIsInnocent.com, that provides a clearing-house for information and news about the fight for Maye’s life. If you want to help, here are three things you can do:
Write a couple letters: Read over the information on Maye’s case at The Agitator, at WikiPedia, and at MayeIsInnocent.com. Write a polite, well-considered letter to Governor Haley Barbour (for an example, see Silent Running (2005-12-10): An Open Letter) mentioning the legalistic details that I’ve mostly set aside here, and ask him to grant clemency or a pardon. Be sure to mention what you’re going to do next: take that letter, pare it down to 300 words or fewer, make it a bit less polite, and send it to your local newspapers. Be sure to include URIs for Balko’s coverage and/or MayeIsInnocent.com. The more heat that Barbour gets, and the more that it makes its way into the Op-Ed pages of newspapers across the country, the more pressure there will be to act. And the more that it appears in those Op-Ed pages, the more people will learn about the case.
Post news or commentary on your website about the case. If you haven’t done so already, get on it. If you have, mention anything that’s new since your last post. Why? Because this is important, but it’s in danger of receding into bloggers’ archive sections and out of public sight. Keep the debate alive online and it will have a better chance of reaching more ears both online or offline. If you’ve written letters, you can post copies online for other people to see. If it’s nothing more than a
Cory Maye is still in jail and the state of Mississippi still threatens to murder an innocent man,there’s nothing wrong with that, either. Because he is still in jail and the state of Mississippi is still threatening to murder an innocent man; the sword over his head hasn’t moved away just because your attention has. (If you’re the sort to post buttons or banners at the top of your page, Roderick (2006-01-08) and Laura Denyes (2006-01-04) have some suggestions. Don’t forget to link the image to MayeIsInnocent.com or a similar clearing-house.)
Help Cory defend himself in court. If you have the money, you can help by contributing to [Cory Maye’s legal defense fund]. Even small contributions ($10, $20) can be immensely helpful in a case like this. Maye’s case is on appeal, but his current lawyer is a public defendant and needs financial help to be able to continue his investigative and advocacy work on Maye’s case. Contributions can be sent by mail to:
Cory Maye Justice Fund
c/o R.E. Evans
P.O. Box 636
Monticello, MS 39654
See Balko’s post (2005-01-06 for the details.
Battlepanda (2005-12-13) suggests some more ways you can try to raise a ruckus about this. Let’s get on with it: an innocent man’s life is on the line.