Alabama death row inmate Cory Maples is being given a new hearing after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a rare exception. Attorney’s for the death row inmate failed to file an appeals deadline because of a weird chain of events, an appeal the court believes may have helped his case.
In 1997 Maples was convicted of murdering two people, at the time two lawyers for big name New York Law firm Sullivan & Cromwell volunteered to work on his appeal.
After filing an initial appeal both attorney’s left the law firm as the case began to proceed through Alabama’s court system. When letters were sent to the lawyer’s at Sullivan & Cromwell after they had left their posts they were sent back to their sender, causing the deadline to be missed.
Years after the incident Maples realized what had occurred and petitioned the state court system, unfortunately they shot down his claim at which point his lawyers petitioned the US Supreme Court.
In her majority opinion Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that Cory Maples was the victim of “extraordinary circumstances quite beyond his control.”
While Maples is still stuck on death row for the time being he can now appeal the state court system. In his appeal he plans to mention that his previous lawyers failed to tell the jury that he was drunk at the time of the shooting, a fact that could move him off death row, perhaps to a life or reduced sentence.
Do you believe the US Supreme Court acted correctly in securing Cory Maples’ rights?