Cory Maye Update: Town of Prentiss Fires Its Public Defender for Representing Maye
The Cory Maye case grows curiouser and curiouser.
As I've mentioned before, Cory Maye's lawyer on appeal is Bob Evans, who also happens to be the public defender for Jefferson Davis County. For ten years, Evans has also served as the public defender for the town of Prentiss, the seat of Jefferson Davis County.
It now appears that the Prentiss Board of Aldermen have fired Evans as the Prentiss public defender. His transgression? Representing Cory Maye. Evans told me last month that he'd been warned that if he agreed to take this case, he could well be fired. Looks like whoever warned him was correct.
With his permission, here's the email Evans sent to me this morning
Just found out this a.m. that the Town of Prentiss has"decided to go another route" pertaining to my position as town public defender. In other words, they have now made official what was intimated to me back in December and have fired me.
The explicit and sole reason given to me by the mayor was that my representation of Cory Maye was not to the liking of the aldermen. I guess it wasn't to the mayor's liking either since, to the best of my knowledge, he didn't veto their decision. Of course, I have no doubt that it's a politically popular decision among the Caucasians of Prentiss. But what in life is not, at least to some extent, political?
When apprised that this move was being contemplated, although I doubted that it would make any difference I requested the courtesy of being allowed to appear before the board to express my reasons for representing Cory. They did not deign to grant me this opportunity.
I have been Prentiss public defender officially (salaried) since February 1995 and unofficially for several years prior. During that time not one official complaint has been communicated to me about my performance. Of course, there have been many unofficial complaints about me"getting all those guilty people off."
What it boils down to is something that I have known and personally observed about members of the"unwashed masses" for many years: When the Constitution and Bill of Rights are applied to benefit others, the right to counsel, due process, fair trial et al. are"technicalities". Criminals get off on technicalities such as the 4th Amendment. Only when one of their asses is in a sling are these same documents"fundamental rights".
But what the hell. Four hundred a month ain't gonna bankrupt me. This decision, to me, is an indication that the"powers that be" actually believe that we can win Cory's appeal. That is a refreshing thought. I have always liked the adage"He who laughs last laughs best."
This afternoon, I made some phone calls to Prentiss officials to verify the reason for Evans' firing. My first call was to the mayor, Charles Dumas. One thing to keep in mind about Dumas -- he's very close to the family of the late Officer Ron Jones. In fact, in one December 28, 2001 article from the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Dumas is described as spokesperson"on behalf of the Jones family."
Mayor Dumas told me he couldn't say one way or the other if Evans' story was true, and that if I wanted to know why the Board fired Evans, I'd have to talk to the aldermen. I asked him specifically about the conversation Evans said they had this morning, in which, according to Evans, Mayor Dumas said the termination was in direct retaliation for Evans' representation of Maye. Mayor Dumas said,"Bob and I had a personal conversation. I won't comment on that. You'll have to ask the Board why they fired him."
So I called the board. Aldermen Terry Brinson and Robert G. Miller didn't answer their phones, and had no answering machine or voicemail. I left messages on the answering machines of Aldermen Danny L. Daniels and Willie Davis.
The only alderman I was able to get in touch with was Sylvia Ward. Ward told me that she didn't feel comfortable telling me why the Board fired Evans, and that if I really wanted to know, I'd have to come down to Mississippi and ask the board"as a whole." I told her that the Mayor told me only the board could tell me why Evans was fired, but that I had reason to believe it was because he was serving as counsel for Cory Maye. Again, she said, I'd either need to request a copy of the minutes or come down to Mississippi and make my request in person.
You are, of course, free to draw your own conclusions here. But of the two Prentiss officials I've spoken with so far, neither has denied that his representation of Maye was the reason for Evans' termination, and both were rather coy when I suggested it.
It seems pretty clear to me that Evans was fired from his job as Prentiss public defender in direct retaliation for representing the man who shot the town police chief's son in his death row appeal.
The fact that the town took such petty retaliatory measures against a public defender for doing exactly what he's supposed to do -- represent an indigent defendant -- certainly doesn't inspire confidence in the way justice is meted out in Prentiss.
Archive of Cory Maye posts here.
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