Maples v. Thomas
April 27, 2012
POSTCONVICTION RELIEF DEADLINE EXPANDED
Cory R. Maples, convicted of murder and sentenced to death, filed for postconviction relief under Ala. R. Crim. P. Rule 32 in 2001. He claimed that his sixth amendment right had been violated, in that he did not have proper representation. The issue regarding Mr. Maples’ representation focuses on the two out-of-state attorneys representing him. They were accompanied by an in-state lawyer by the name of Butler, who told Maples’ representation he was solely present for pro hac vice to take effect. He expressed his involvement would be minimal at most.
In 2002, while his petition was still pending, both of Maples’ attorneys left the firm they had been with, rendering them unable to represent their client. They also did not file for a leave to withdraw through the trial court. However, they were still listed as his attorneys. Maples petition was rejected in 2003, documents stating such were sent to the previous, and only, address on record for his representation and were sent back, unopened. No other attempts to reach them were made. Maples’ time to file for appeal had run out. Not long after, Mr. Maples was informed through direct communication with the assistant attorney general he had four weeks left to file a federal habeas petition. Through legal counsel, a renewed 42-day appeal period was requested and denied by the court. The order to renew the filing period was denied as well as a writ of mandamus, which would have allowed Maples time to file an out-of-time appeal. Maples filed for certiorari review with the United States Supreme Court
Decision: Affirmed. The court found the petitioner not to be in fault if evidence can be provided which supports his claim of procedural default and a violation of federal law can be discovered. Typically, negligence on behalf of representation of a prisoner cannot be viewed as cause, because the attorney is working for the prisoner under specific guidelines. However, in this case, the legal counsels for Maples abandoned their client without informing him or the courts of doing so. The court also discovered that the only other attorney involved in the case, did not even attempt to represent, or guide the out-of-state representation in this case. The court found that by having no notice of a withdrawal of legal counsel, and continuing to believe he was represented by his attorneys, Maples was kept from proceeding with his petition to the state.