[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Mar 8 23:06:20 CST 2005
Reviews Set for Mexicans on Death Row
The Bush administration has shifted its position in a Supreme Court case
with international significance, ordering state courts to consider
complaints by 51 Mexicans held on death row that they were denied their
right to have Mexican officials notified.
The International Court of Justice, or World Court, had ordered the United
States last March to review the convictions and sentences in nine states
of 51 Mexicans on death row, including Jos Ernesto Medelln, by whose name
the Supreme Court case is known.
The World Court said the 51 had been deprived of their rights under the
Vienna Convention on Consular Relations to meet with, and receive
assistance from, officials of their government.
In a memorandum to the attorney general dated Feb. 28, President Bush said
he had determined "that the United States will discharge its international
obligations under the decision of the International Court of Justice."
The president's constitutional authority allows him to order state courts,
even those that found that defendants had failed to raise their treaty
rights in proper or timely fashion, to grant review.
Mr. Medelln, who grew up in the United States, was a member of a street
gang called the Black and Whites. During the initiation of a member in
1993, he and others grabbed two teenage girls who had stumbled upon the
initiation and raped and killed both.
In his 1994 trial, Mr. Medelln failed to raise the issue of the
authorities' failure to notify Mexican officials of his imprisonment in
Texas. He was represented by a court-appointed lawyer who, unknown to the
trial judge, had been suspended from law practice.
The Vienna Convention requires the authorities in a country detaining a
foreign citizen to notify him "without delay" of his right to consular
help. Consular officers are then allowed to visit the person and arrange
It took 3 years for Mexican officials to learn of Mr. Medelln's murder
conviction. Mexico sued the United States in 2003 on behalf of him and
other Mexican inmates.
In the World Court, the United States said the Mexican suit constituted
"an unjustified, unwise and ultimately unacceptable intrusion in the
United States criminal justice system."
The World Court rejected Mexico's request that the Mexicans' convictions
be nullified but ordered the United States to provide "effective review."
(source: International Herald Tribune)
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