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Texas executes Mexico national

•  Breaking Legal News     updated  2008/08/07 08:56

The state of Texas executed Mexican national Jose Ernesto Medellin late Tuesday evening after the US Supreme Court narrowly refused to stay his sentence. Medellin's appeal was based on a July order by the International Court of Justice, which had attempted to halt his execution and mandated a review to determine whether Medellin and four other Mexican nationals on death row in Texas were inappropriately denied the chance to speak with Mexican counselor officers in violation of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Medellin had argued that his execution should be stayed because either state or federal bodies could decide to recognize the order in the future, but the Supreme Court majority disagreed, saying the possibility was too remote to warrant a stay:

The beginning premise for any stay, and indeed for the assumption that Congress or the legislature might seek to intervene in this suit, must be that petitioner’s confession was obtained unlawfully. This is highly unlikely as a matter of domestic or international law. Other arguments seeking to establish that a violation of the Convention constitutes grounds for showing the invalidity of the state court judgment, for instance because counsel was inadequate, are also insubstantial... The Department of Justice of the United States is well aware of these proceedings and has not chosen to seek our intervention. Its silence is no surprise: The United States has not wavered in its position that petitioner was not prejudiced by his lack of consular access.

The execution was carried out despite opposition from international leaders including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, along with the Mexican government, which had appealed the sentence to ICJ in June.

In March, the Supreme Court ruled in Medellin v. Texas that neither a 2005 memorandum from President Bush ordering Texas to rehear several cases against Mexican nationals nor the March 2004 ICJ decision that order was based on were binding on Texas officials who had refused to rehear Medellin's case. Medellin's latest appeal before Texas authorities was rejected last week by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Critics of Medellin's appeal often point to the fact that he failed to assert his status as a Mexican national during his trial.

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