Case of Texas inmate a test of international law

Jul 8, 2011 - LegalZoom News Sources
The case of a Mexican citizen on death row in Texas will test international law.

The case of Humberto Leal Garcia Jr, on death row in Texas for the 1994 rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl, has substantial implications for the prosecution of international law.

Texas law enforcement officers never told Leal that as a Mexican citizen, the Vienna Conventions guaranteed him the right to consult with Mexican authorities and seek their aid in obtaining legal representation.

U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli has filed a brief with the Supreme Court, arguing Leal's execution be delayed while Congress considers legislation that might lead to the reappraisal of his case in federal court. Verilli is also concerned that the handling of Leal's case might set a bad precedent, encouraging foreign countries to prosecute U.S. nationals without adhering to the Vienna Conventions.

The AP reports the state of Texas has also filed a Supreme Court brief in the case, arguing that Leal's trial was fair and his punishment deserved.

According to the Guardian, the state of Texas executed Mexican citizen Jose Medellin in 2008, in defiance of an International Court of Justice ruling that he should have been expressly informed of his right to seek legal assistance from the Mexican consulate.