Supreme Court denies Godbolt request to present oral arguments
Published 5:00 pm Friday, November 3, 2023
On Friday, Oct. 13, the Mississippi Supreme Court filed a petition from convicted multiple murderer Cory Godbolt petitioning to present oral arguments before the court Nov. 14. On Friday, Nov. 3, the Court denied that request.
In a 6-2 decision, the order issued Nov. 3 reads, “After due consideration, the Court finds that the motion is not well taken and should be denied … It is therefore ordered that the Motion to Make Oral Arguments filed by the Appellant is denied.” In opposition to the ruling, Justices King and Kitchens issued the following: “Because I would grant Godbolt’s motion, I object to the order denying it. Denying his motion to present his own oral argument is disharmonious with a defendant’s right to be heard under article 3, section 26, of the Mississippi Constitution and with the death penalty appellate rights provide by Mississippi Code …”
The order in full can be read here.
Godbolt was convicted in February 2020 of capital murder for the 2017 slayings of Lincoln County Deputy William Durr, and three other people — Austin Edwards, Jordan Blackwell and Sheila Burage. Godbolt also received life in prison for the murders of Brenda May, Toccara May, Barbara Mitchell and Ferral Burage, life in prison for the attempted murder of Kees and life for the kidnapping of Xavier Lilly, 20 years for the kidnapping of LaPeatra Stafford and 20 years for armed robbery.
Now 41, Godbolt wrote a petition in pencil on yellow legal pad paper, dated it Oct. 9, and mailed it from the Mississippi State Penitentiary to the Office of the Clerk, Supreme Court, Court of Appeals. The Court filed the petition Friday, Oct. 13, 2023.
With no edits, the petition states in part:
“Appellant Counsel have been granted a Motion to make Oral Arguments on November 14, 2023. Godbolt ask for due consideration that he be allowed to make oral arguments as well. Godbolt is recognized in this Court as Pro Se. Godbolt solely did preparation and the completion of his Appellant Brief. Therefore Godbolt Counsel whom did not submit the Pro Se issues. Can not have dual allegiance over Oral Arguments. Respectfully Godbolt request the he be allowed an allotted portion to make argument of his own. Godbolt pray that this motion be granted.”
On Sept. 29, the Court Administrator Hubbard T. Saunders IV had granted the attorneys’ request for oral argument, which was then scheduled for Nov. 14 at 1:30 p.m. Oral arguments may be viewed on the Court website at http://courts.ms.gov.
The State and Godbolt’s attorneys will each have 30 minutes to speak before the Court on that day.
Lincoln County Circuit Court Judge David Strong originally set July 15, 2020, as the date for Godbolt’s execution to be carried out at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, though direct appeal was automatic, and multiple avenues of appeal were expected to be followed by the convicted.
Godbolt’s attorneys previously petitioned the district court for a new trial in July 2020. Judge Strong said he would not grant a new trial based on any point presented during that court session.