Criminal Justice

Good News From Mississippi

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Some positive developments this week in two ongoing Mississippi stories I've been covering.

  • First, the Mississippi Court of Appeals has rejected the state's motion for a rehearing in the Cory Maye case. Maye was convicted of capital murder for killing a police officer who broke into his home during a 2001 drug raid. (My October 2006 Reason feature on Maye here. Reason.tv's award-winning documentary on Maye's story here.) The same court granted Maye a new trial last November. The state now has 14 days to appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court. If they decide to do so (and thus far, they've give every indication they will), both sides will submit briefs, after which the court could either schedule oral arguments or issue an opinion based on the briefs. If the court upholds the appeals court ruling granting Maye a new trial, Maye's attorneys say they'd expect that at the earliest the new trial would begin in late summer or early fall.
  • Also this week, the Mississippi State Senate unanimously passed a bill that would require anyone hired to do an autopsy by one of the state's counties be certified in forensic pathology by the American Board of Pathology. The bill was a reaction to the news, which I first broke here at Reason.com last August, that several Mississippi counties were attempting to resurrect an old state law to bring back controversial medical examiner Steven Hayne (archive of my reporting on Hayne here). Hayne is not board-certified in forensic pathology by the American Board of Pathology. He took the certification exam in the 1980s and failed it. My sources in Mississippi tell me Hayne and the state's coroners lobbied against the bill. It's good to see that it passed so overwhelmingly.