South Carolina inmate Michael Ray, who persuaded the Supreme Court to hear a case involving a fellow prisoner, may have come up with a losing case and a criminal investigation of himself. Ray wrote a brief that got the high court to consider an appeal by fellow prisoner Keith Lavon Burgess, reports McClatchy Newspapers. While a law professor presented oral arguments yesterday, Ray is under criminal investigation for unauthorized legal practice for his handling of Burgess’ case.
The case involves a rather technical question over what prior felonies count when judges impose minimum mandatory sentences. Burgess almost certainly will lose, based on questions during oral arguments. Ray filed the case “in forma pauperis” to avoid the $300 filing fee. During the court’s 2006-07 term, 7,186 in forma pauperis petitions were considered. Of these, the court accepted only seven for review. McClatchy wrote about the case Jan. 17. The Associated Press followed up, as did the National Law Journal. Shortly afterward, Ray learned that the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office was examining whether was he was practicing law without a license.