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SOJOURNERS/GOD’S POLITICS BLOG, Oct. 9, 2011

Deadlines and the Death Penalty: The Case of Corey R. Maples

by Maurice Possley 10-09-2011 10:13 am

400px-Unbalanced_scales_circle.svgThe ink was barely dry on the death certificate for Troy Davis, executed by the state of Georgia on Sept. 21, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in an Alabama death penalty case that, if not for its serious nature, feels like a trip through Alice’s looking glass.

The question before the court is this: Should the state of Alabama execute a man who lost an opportunity to file an appeal in his case because a deadline was missed — because of a foul up in a law firm’s mail room?

At issue is the case of Corey R. Maples, convicted of murdering two men in 1995 and sentenced to death, even though his trial lawyers have since conceded they were “stumbling around in the dark.” Unlike the Davis case, where substantial doubt about his guilt had been raised before he was executed, there doesn’t appear to be much question that Mr. Maples committed a double murder. The issue is whether he received ineffective assistance of counsel in the penalty phase of the case and whether, had he had competent counsel, he would have been sentenced to a prison term instead of death.

On appeal, Mr. Maples was represented by the New York law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell. Alabama is the only state that does not provide lawyers on appeal in death cases. Two associates in the firm handled Mr. Maples’ post-conviction appeal and when it was denied, a copy of the ruling was sent to the New York office of the law firm. By then, both associates had left the firm, so the mail room stamped the denial of the appeal “return to sender” and “left firm.”

The local Alabama lawyer who was on the case only, he has said, so that the New York lawyers could be permitted to practice in Alabana, received a copy, but did nothing because he assumed that Sullivan & Cromwell was on top of the situtation.

Wrong.

By the time someone figured out what happened, the deadline to appeal the denial of his post-conviction appeal had passed. So far, the state of Alabama has successfully argued that despite the mail room debacle, Maples should have been aware — through his local counsel — that the clock was ticking and that he just blew it.

Continue reading Maury’s post HERE.

WGN-RADIO in Chicago, “The Milt Rosenberg Show,” Oct. 5, 2011

Listen to Maury’s recent appearance with Milt to discuss Hitler in the Crosshairs HERE.

SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, Oct. 5, 2011

Maurice Possley and Kathleen ‘Cookie’ Ridolfi: Attorneys and judges need to report misconduct cases to the California Bar Association

Two decades ago, in response to a highly critical series of media reports that revealed how the State Bar of California had virtually abdicated its role in the investigation and discipline of attorneys, the Legislature passed two laws requiring courts and lawyers to report misconduct to the Bar.

The laws added to the California Business and Professions Code require courts to report misconduct by attorneys and require attorneys to self-report misconduct findings to the Bar. But research shows these mandates are largely ignored by the courts and attorneys and are unenforced by the Bar, even though lack of compliance is in itself grounds for discipline.

With that in mind, the Bar should take a serious look at two decisions last week, one by a state Appellate Court involving a prosecution in Santa Clara County and the other by a Superior Court judge in Los Angeles County.

Continue reading the OpEd HERE.

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