Corey Maze – Nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama

The 40-year-old Corey Maze has, like two other Trump judicial nominees from Alabama, served as Alabama Solicitor General.  His tenure in that office, and his subsequent tenure with the Alabama Attorney General, has prepared him well for the federal bench.

Background

Corey Landon Maze was born in Gadsden, Alabama on January 4, 1978.  Maze graduated summa cum laude from Auburn University in 1996 and cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center in 2003.[1]

After graduation, Maze joined the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, working under then-AG William Pryor as Assistant Attorney General in Criminal Trials and Appeals.[2]  In 2008, Attorney General Troy King selected Maze to be Solicitor General of Alabama.  He held the position until 2011, when he became Special Deputy Attorney General for Civil Litigation, a position he still holds.

History of the Seat

Maze has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.  This seat opened on June 22, 2018, when Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins moved to senior status.  However, Maze had contacted Alabama Senator Richard Shelby in November 2016 to express his interest in an appointment to the federal bench.[3]  Maze interviewed with Shelby and then-Sen. Luther Strange in 2017, and with the White House in early 2018.  Maze was officially nominated on May 10, 2018.[4]

Legal Experience

Maze has spent his entire legal career at the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, working as Assistant Attorney General in Criminal Trials and Appeals, as Solicitor General, and, currently, as Special Deputy Attorney General for Civil Litigation.

As Assistant Attorney General, Maze prosecuted both non-capital and capital murder cases in Alabama state courts.  Notably, Maze prosecuted Daniel Wade Moore for the stabbing death of Karen Croft Tipton in 1999.[5]  Moore’s initial conviction was overturned by Judge Glenn Thompson, but was reinstated on appeal.[6]  Moore’s second trial ended in a hung jury, and, in his third, Maze was admonished by Judge Steve Haddock for failing to disclose a disk of FBI evidence to the defense, stating that the conduct of the investigators constituted “willful and intentional misconduct.”[7]  Moore was ultimately acquitted in his third trial.

As Solicitor General, Maze served as Alabama’s chief appellate attorney.  In this role, Maze argued three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.  In one, Maze successfully defended a death penalty conviction under federal habeas review, as dictated by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.[8]  In another, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against Maze’s position, holding that an inmate who had successfully obtained habeas relief was permitted to raise a challenge to his second death sentence on the same constitutional grounds.[9]  In a third case, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 against Maze’s position that a railroad transportation company cannot challenge the imposition of Alabama sales tax on the purchase of diesel fuel.[10]

As Special Deputy Attorney General for Civil Litigation, Maze handles complex civil litigation for the state.  For example, Maze has served as Chief Counsel for Alabama’s suit against British Petroleum (BP) for damages resulting from the 2011 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.[11]  The suit led to a settlement with approximately $950 million in damages to be paid to the State.[12]

Overall Assessment

Despite his youth, Maze has built an impressive legal career.  Given his experience arguing before the Supreme Court and managing multi-million dollar settlements, Maze can argue that he has the legal and organizational ability to excel on the federal bench.

That being said, Maze may still be questioned regarding his time at the Attorney General’s Office.  Specifically, Maze may receive questions about his conduct in the Moore case, and whether he agrees that his office’s actions constituted misconduct.

Overall, Maze remains a favorite for confirmation.  While Sen. Flake’s blockade on judicial nominees will likely prevent Maze’s confirmation this year, he should be confirmed in due course next Congress.


[1] Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 115th Cong., Corey L. Maze: Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees 1.

[2] Id.

[3] Id. at 33.

[4] Press Release, White House, President Donald J. Trump Announces Fourteenth Wave of Judicial Nominees, Thirteenth Wave of United States Attorney Nominees, and Eighth Wave of United States Marshall Nominees (May 10, 2018) (on file at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office).  

[5] Sheryl Marsh, Spending 4 Weeks on a Jury: Judge Quizzes Potential Jurors About Lengthy Trial in Tipton Murder Case, Decatur Daily, Feb. 12, 2008.

[6] See id.

[7] Sheryl Marsh, Tipton Judge Cites Misconduct; Haddock Says Prosecutors Withheld Evidence, But Delays Motion to Dismiss Charges; Jury Selection Begins, Decatur Daily, Apr. 14, 2009.

[8] See Wood v. Allen, 130 S.Ct. 841 (2010).

[9] Magwood v. Patterson, 130 S.Ct. 2788 (2010).

[10] CSX Transp. Inc. v. Alabama Dep’t of Revenue, 131 S.Ct. 1101 (2011).

[11] Kyle Barnett, Ala. AG’s Office Re-Deputized Private Firm to Avoid Legal Challenge From BP, Has Always Intended to Use Firm for Trial, Legal News Line, June 2, 2015.

[12] Jessica Karmasek, Alabama’s $1B Settlement with BP Over 2010 Gulf Oil Spill ‘Officially Approved By All Parties’, Legal News Line, Oct. 15, 2015.

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