Michael R. Ray is the god-king of all jailhouse lawyers and I am in awe of his accomplishment.
Currently finishing out his third term in the Estill Federal Correctional Institution in South Carolina, where he's been doing time for fraud, the certified paralegal developed a hobby: filing petitions with the U.S. Supreme Court. And after about 75 tries over the last twenty years, he's accomplished something few actual attorneys ever do. He wrote a brief that persuaded the Court to consider an appeal for a fellow inmate at Estill, a guy named Keith Lavon Burgess. Burgess is a total lowlife and the appeal is probably going down in flames -- it's about clearly defining what constitutes a previous felony conviction for the purposes of applying a minimum mandatory sentence -- but that's not the point. The point is a regular Joe with no law degree managed to get the attention of the Big Boy Court. And for that he must be punished.
Mr. Ray is due to be released April 14, unless the South Carolina Attorney General's Office decides to prosecute him for Unlicensed Practice of Law. Ray is also king of the smooth reaction. To quote the press release he wrote himself: "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." Prosecuting him for UPL would be a shame if it happens. He filed the brief in forma pauperis to duck the $300 filing fee. Out of the 7,186 such briefs filed in that Court term, his was one of only seven accepted for review. The guy's good, real good, although maybe he should consider horning in on Grisham's action instead.