Saturday, December 30, 2006

Radley "Let the cop killer out of jail because I don't like no-knock drug raids" Balko continues to b**** that Cory Maye, his cop killing cause celebre, is still in jail awaiting re-sentencing for having shot and killed a police officer.

He and the otherwise-good Professor are upset because a Mississippi judge turned down Maye's request for a new trial.

In particular, Balko (and, I'll assume, the Professor) objects to the judge (1) not agreeing that a particular precedent was applicable in this case, (2) not agreeing that the cop killer's trial attorney was incompetent, (3) not agreeing that the facts proved the warrant in question was obtained improperly, and (4) doing all of this in a mere 8 pages.

Perhaps the judge could have taken the better part of another 20 or 30 pages, but, to me, why use a redwood when a sapling could suffice?

As to whether the trial attorney was incompetent, the judge found that on every one of the points regarding the cop killer's attorney supposed incompetence, her performance was perhaps open to question but didn't rise to a level of incompetence. As he put it, nothing guarantees a defendant error-free representation. He saw nothing wrong with her request for a change in venue. He found her preparation sufficient for the defense being mounted. While Maye acknowledges this was a tough point to win, he nonetheless brands the judge's decision "ridiculous". He claims, without any evidence, that the moving the trial cost Maye an acquital... notwithstanding the view of Maye's own (sort-of) relative that moving the case was a good idea.

As for Balko's claim that the Wheeler case, in which a cop killer was (sort of) let off the hook because he didn't know he had shot a cop, should apply in this case, the judge writes persuasively that whether Maye knew the guy he was shooting at was a cop is an issue of fact and, as such, to be evaluated by jury, which did in fact rule that Maye knew he was shooting at a cop.

And finally, as far as Balko's argument that the warrant was flawed because it was supposedly based on the lies of some racist hack, well, since the police officer Maye shot was the police officer who obtained the warrant, all I can say is that Maye obviously didn't do himself by shooting the one person who could have testified to the legitimacy of the warrant. And while there may be some legal point that would let Maye off the hook if the warrant was improperly obtained, I have argued in the past that what matters here is not how the warrant was obtained but whether the jury was unreasonable in concluding that Maye knew he was shooting at a police officer. Maye testified he didn't know, the jury concluded otherwise. And while appellate courts are supposed to respect findings of fact, they can reverse if they find the jury/judge had no basis for ruling as they did... and the fact that no such appellate panel has made such a ruling is good enough for me to respect the jury's decision.

Balko is simply so anti-drug war in general and anti-no knock raid in particular that he has lost any sense of perspective. He writes* as if he thinks the cops are the enemy, the prosecutors who bring these cases are scum, the judges who refuse to rule as he deems appropriate are incompetent or corrupt, and the juries who convict those he champions are stupid people.

What a warped view that is. Thank goodness most people don't agree with him.

As for the otherwise-good Professor, (based on my reading of his post "Cory Maye's Motion for a new trial has been denied. It's an injustice worthy of Mike Nifong") I really take offense at his slander (update: technically, I guess 'libel' is the right term) that this has been Nifong-like. Where's the parallel with the Duke case? Was there a flawed line-up? Was DNA evidence withheld from the defense? Did the prosecutor ignore evidence that the defendant was really at an ATM at the time the police officer was shot? Was the Mississippi prosecutor brought up on ethics charges by the state bar?

The answer is there is none... and it's a cheap shot to start hurling "Nifong" simply because you don't like the outcome of a particular case. To do so lessens the significance of what Nifong has done.

The fact is a Mississippi jury heard evidence that convinced them BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT that Maye knew he was shooting at a police officer. Balko and the Professor don't like no-knock raids, fine, let them go about changing the law through the legislative process, not through the courts... that's the way the process is supposed to work, right guys?

* MY OPINION. It may be that Balko really does think nice things of the police who wage the war on drugs and conduct these no-knock raids, as well as everybody else who gets involved in helping to send drug dealers and users and cop killers to jail... but, if he does, I haven't seen it.