SCOTUS, Weirdness

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
(If you file a cert petition for a fellow prison inmate and do not have a law degree.)

prison bars.jpgThere’s an interesting behind-the-scenes story in an appeal heard by the Supreme Court this week. The appeal concerns a South Carolina drug dealer and the definition of a felony. For details, see this AP story.
What we find interesting is the former paralegal serving jail time who got SCOTUS to accept the case. We previously named him our Jailhouse Lawyer of the Day. Here’s a recap:

Jailhouse lawyer Michael Ray has accomplished something rarely achieved by even the most experienced of attorneys on the outside: The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in a case for one of his fellow inmates.

Legal experts estimate the high court accepts less than 1 percent of the thousands of cases it receives each year. The Court’s action was even more extraordinary in this instance, because the appeal was drawn up by a prisoner who earns 29 cents an hour and does not even have a college degree, much less a law school education.

“This is basically a once-in-a-lifetime for a good criminal defense attorney, so you can imagine I’m on cloud nine, with my background,” the 42-year-old Ray said with a laugh during a recent phone interview from a federal prison in Estill, S.C.

I mean, really, who needs law school? It’s just a whole lot of debt and time spent surfing the net. There are so many other law-related, no-law-degree-needed opportunities: jailhouse lawyer, ATL guest blogger…
(You do need an actual law degree to go before SCOTUS, though. Stanford Law School professor Jeffrey L. Fisher argued the case this week.)
But Ray’s not on cloud nine anymore. Read why, after the jump.

Michael Ray is being investigated by the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office for practicing law without a legal license. From McClatchy:

While Fisher presented oral arguments Monday, Ray is reportedly under criminal investigation for unauthorized legal practice for his handling of Burgess’ case. The investigation could complicate Ray’s scheduled April 14 release from Estill Federal Correctional Institution, where he’s been serving time for fraud.

“It would be nice to see the Palmetto State dedicating the thousands of dollars being expended in this (investigation) for a prisoner re-entry services program… and for ex-felon job creation,” Ray declared in a self-penned news release.

Or maybe a law school scholarship fund for ex-felons? Just a suggestion.
S.C. inmate’s Supreme Court win earns him criminal probe [McClatchy]
Jailhouse Lawyer Gets Rare Nod From U.S. Supreme Court [Associated Press via]
Earlier: Jailhouse Lawyer of the Day: Michael Ray

(hidden for your protection)

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