Wednesday, December 14, 2005

History in the making? The blogosphere breaks a possible innocent-on-death-row story

Something pretty interesting -- no, fascinating; no, possibly historic -- is going on out there in BlogLand.

It apparently started over the weekend when Radley Balko of the libertarian blog The Agitator blogged on the case of Cory Maye, who is on death row in Mississippi for killing a police officer. You can read Randy's original blog entry here.

Now all of a sudden blogs all over the place are picking up on the piece and it even has entered "mainstream" blogland with mentions in The Hotline and CBS News' blog. (We at Abolish the Death Penalty missed it, what with all the publicity around the Stanley Tookie Williams case.)

Here's sort of a running account of how this story has crept up:

Cory Maye: "An Interesting Test Of The Power Of The Blogosphere."

While the fate of Stanley “Tookie” Williams drew plenty of attention in the in the mainstream media, many in the blogosphere – on the right and the left - have been lamenting the lack of similar attention to the death penalty case of Cory Maye. Maye is on death row for killing a police officer. Radley Balko of the libertarian blog The Agitator was first to blog about Maye, and those who have followed seem to agree that Maye is the victim of overzealous police and racial bias and doesn’t deserve the death penalty. Balko offers a detailed summary of his findings in the case and sums it up as such:

Cops mistakenly break down the door of a sleeping man, late at night, as part of drug raid. Turns out, the man wasn't named in the warrant, and wasn't a suspect. The man, frigthened [sic] for himself and his 18-month old daughter, fires at an intruder who jumps into his bedroom after the door's been kicked in. Turns out that the man, who is black, has killed the white son of the town's police chief. He's later convicted and sentenced to death by a white jury. The man has no criminal record, and police rather tellingly changed their story about drugs
(rather, traces of drugs) in his possession at the time of the raid.

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit says the case “sounds like a total miscarriage of justice”: If the facts are as [Balko] reports, this guy never should have been charged -- and he should have had a lawsuit (though those, unreasonably, are usually losers) against the police for breaking down the wrong door. The cop who was shot was the police chief's son. And there's a racial angle, too.

Obsidian Wings, who notes that “I don't have any moral qualms about the death penalty as a concept,” adds: If it is true that Maye was mistakenly thought to be a drug dealer and he reacted as many innocent citizens might to an intruder, he ought not be executed. Maye is not the kind of killer that I have in mind when I argue in defense of the death penalty.

Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly’s Political Animal, who is “not opposed to the death penalty” writes: Regardless of whether or not there's more here than meets the eye, there's not much doubt that Maye doesn't deserve to die. It's yet another example of how capriciously the death penalty is applied in the United States, and Maye's case is an almost perfect demonstration of the intersection of race, lousy representation, and likely police misconduct that are so often the hallmarks of capital cases.

The Volokh Conspiracy chides the mainstream media: The MSM hasn't
paid any attention to this story, but it should. And I hope the ississippi
Supreme Court will be paying lots of attention, too.

And amid much talk of the influence of bloggers and citizen journalism, Mark Kleiman at Huffington Post chimes in about what this latest crusade might reveal: This case is an interesting test of the power of the blogosphere. Though the apparent injustice is two years old, it seems to have attracted exactly zero attention in the mainstream media, at least according to a Google News search for "Cory Maye."


Anonymous said...

All readers of this story in Mississippi should take a little time. The New York Times, Washington Post etc. have news tip lines where you can email a news tip. If they are inundated with requests to look into this, then they just might.

Second, elected officials are responsive to concerns of constituents. Well-written letters may get a response and prompt some action. Also, Senator Lott may take an interest in this case, since he can use it to atone for his segregation nostalgia. A well-written letter to the Senator may help.

Third, organizations. The NAACP should be all over this one. Why isn't it? The NRA should be as well, since this appears to be a case of self-defense.

Most people are good people and want to do the right thing. If the facts of this case are as bad as they look, people will want to do the right thing.

If you're on this website, chances are that you don't like the death penalty. Well, now's your opportunity to strike a blow. Pick up the phone, write an email. Anything. It will make your day. I believe in the death penalty, and I have written 3 emails to elected officials and one to the Tip line of the NY Times. Certainly, the enlightened folks reading this blog can do better than a bloodthirsty Neanderthal like me.

Walker said...

There is now a petition up for people express their dismay at Maye's sentencing, and their insistence on his unconditional pardon by the governor of Mississippi. David, would you be willing to promote a link to the top of your blog or sidebar? Thanks to any and all for signing.