Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Abrogating Mexican murderer's rights puts Americans at risk abroad

Presidential candidate Barack Obama's perhaps premature victory lap overseas emphasizes the extent to which one of the major implications of the fall elections will be repairing America's image in the world after eight years of our government thumbing its nose at other nations.

By his second term, even President Bush began to shift policies hoping to repair our worldly image. Perhaps the most overt example was his advocacy on behalf of the consular notification rights of Jose Medellin, a Mexican national who raped and killed two teenage girls and is scheduled to be executed next week. The President maintains authorities should have notified Medellin of his right to contact the Mexican consulate. As described in an editorial from the Waco Tribune Herald ("Texas should honor treaties," July 29):

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals defied Bush, the World Court and international opinion by refusing to hear the Medellin case.

Although Article VI of the Constitution says that “all treaties made . . . under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land, and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby,” the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that since Congress failed to provide a method to implement the treaty, Texas does not have to abide by the treaty.

Even if the effort in Congress succeeds in ensuring that the treaty is honored nationwide, it will not come before Medellin’s Aug. 5 execution date.

The case against Medellin is strong. Nothing will be lost if it is reconsidered in line with the treaty.

A lot could be lost, however, if other countries with questionable legal systems follow the Texas example by ignoring the treaty and refusing to allow Americans arrested in foreign countries from consulting with the American Consulate for legal assistance.

The Medellin case needs to be reconsidered.

Many folks think of Waco as a parochial place, but this opinion piece promotes a worldly wise perspective: Anyone who's traveled extensively in countries with "questionable legal systems" will appreciate the importance of consular notification rights. I've traveled a lot in Mexico and Turkey over the years, for example, and both are places where I'd be pretty darn scared to be arrested without access to the American consulate. (Take a look, for example, at recently revealed interrogation techniques used by Mexican police.)

Though I'll be surprised if it happens, I agree with the Tribune editorialist that the Board of Pardons and Parole and Gov. Perry should "quickly intervene." If Texans want our own rights to notify the US government upon arrest respected by foreign criminal courts, we simply must reciprocate. Governor Perry and the parole board should stay the execution at least until Congress has time to act. There's simply no need to risk giving other countries an excuse to disdain America or her citizens' rights.

UPDATE: Says the Dallas News in its own editorial, "For the good of the country, we join Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in urging [Governor Perry] to grant a stay of execution."

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

But Grits, wouldn't you agree that other countries are just as guilty of this same type of issue? I remember what in the early 90's where the diplomat's son was cained in Malay due to graffiti?

Not saying your point is incorrect, trying to play devil's advocate a bit. I understand the treaties, and I do not agree with the wild-west style approach of Texas.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I recall my daughter responding to accusations of misbehavior growing up by pointing to some other kid and saying, "But they did it, too." I never accepted that excuse from her and it doesn't work when the government uses it, either. :)

Anonymous said...

What a load! These people don't even believe the crap they are spewing. You're a fool if you think they care one bit about the importance of confessed murderers contacting the Mexican cosulate. This is just a lie, an excuse to promote their political anti-death penalty views.

The attorney general and Condoleezza Rice? Please spare me the drama. The diminished world opinion of the USA is due in part to the fine efforts of people like Condoleezza Rice, Dubya, Dick, so-called "diplomat" John Bolton, and attornies general like John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales. All the sudden I am supposed to believe that this type of person cares about what the world thinks of the USA? "Fool me once shame on you... can't get fooled again." -GWBushtard

Can we do a better job of justice? Sure. We can always do better. But one things is certain we don't need advice from backwater holes like Canada or Mexico where evidence illegally obtained in violation of your rights can still be used against you in a criminal trial. These freaks wouldn't know justice if it slapped them in the face. The Mexican police are controlled by drug lords.

Texas should just tell all these clowns and whiners to STFU and make its own decisions about executing seriel murderers.

Anonymous said...

Charles Kiker here:

I really do sincerely hope that Anonymous 10:55 never has need to contact the US Consul in Mexico or some other foreign country. This issue has absolutely nothing to do with my views on the death penalty, and I don't know Grits's views. I do know GWB's. This has everything to do with honoring treaties.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Who are "these people" you're complaining about promoting "anti-death penalty views," 10:55? President Bush? Secretary Rice? The Waco Tribune editorial board? They're all pro-death penalty!

The vast, vast majority of people eligible to exercise consular notification rights did not commit murders or heinous offenses, just like most Americans arrested in other countries didn't murder anyone. This is about establishing Vienna Convention rights for everybody regardless of the offense.

Anonymous said...

This has everything to do with honoring treaties.

Bull. Ever hear of the Geneva Conventions? We violate them right and left at Gitmo thanks to great people like our attornies general.

This has nothing to do with honoring treaties. Go ahead, go on a killing spree in Mexico and seef how you are treated. Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

The vast, vast majority of people eligible to exercise consular notification rights did not commit murders or heinous offenses

And which way does that slant anyway? All these people locked up for graffitti, driving without a license, and spitting on the sidewalk but the big waaaah waaaah crybabies are worried about the rights of the confessed killers. Give me a freaking break!

If you want to cry for justice then look to the people who might really be innocent or are being harshly punished for a minor crime. By crying over killers you make a mockery of your own arguments.

Anonymous said...

I've traveled a lot in Mexico and Turkey over the years, for example, and both are places where I'd be pretty darn scared to be arrested without access to the American consulate.

Pro Tip: Don't break the law.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"the big waaaah waaaah crybabies are worried about the rights of the confessed killers"

You're either a fool or just not paying attention. The reason the debate is centered around Medellin is that that's the case where the Vienna Convention issue was addressed through the courts. If SCOTUS and the CCA were hearing a different case, the consular rights debate wouldn't implicate the death penalty, and as far as I'm concerned doesn't in this instance.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Pro Tip: "Don't break the law."

Super Pro Tip: Don't be falsely accused.

Bonus Tip: Don't be an asshole.

Anonymous said...

If the criminal charge against Medellin was a misdemeanor committed 15 years ago nobody would even care. Mexico would have never complained and it would be a non-issue. The only reason this is an issue is the death penalty.

Death penalty opponents have hitched their wagon to a guy who confessed to gang rape and murder of two little girls. It makes you look silly. There are people on death row more deserving of your attention than this human turd.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Just saying it doesn't make it true, and again I don't consider President Bush et. al., anti-death penalty and can't understand why you do.

This is the case where SCOTUS ruled on the Vienna Convention issue, not some different one with a more sympathetic defendant. For all the reasons you're citing I wish the case where they ruled on consular notification WAS a nonviolent misdemeanor. It would have avoided absurd comments like yours confusing the issue with your gut-level loathing for death penalty abolitionists. But we don't always get to choose the terrain such battles are fought on.

Mexico pushed the Medellin case because of IT's opposition to the death penalty, I'll give you that, and that's why it went to the World Court before the other 50 similar pending cases. But once he made it that far and on to SCOTUS, Medellin became the test case on consular notification for ALL offenses, independent of the crime he committed.

You seem to imply you'd be more sympathetic to consular notification requirements for lesser offenses, but the treaty doesn't allow us to pick or choose like that; we either comply for everybody or we're out of compliance. And if we're out of compliance, other nations then aren't obligated to extend those rights to our citizens.

Anonymous said...

The only reason Bush and company care about this particular treaty is they fear for their own skin... They couldn't care less about you or me or the reputation of the good old USA.

They'll be out of office in a few months and vacationing on an island. They don't want to be arrested in Bali and put to the firing squad for war crimes or insults against Islam.

Anonymous said...

The SCOTUS affirmed his conviction and death sentence. He's guilty--morally and legally. Based on the facts submitted at trial and the verdict of the jury composed of citizens of Texas and the UNITED STATES and the affirmation of the courts of this country, the only courts with jurisdiction and authority over this case, the sentence must be enforced.

Anonymous said...

Blogger Gritsforbreakfast said...

Pro Tip: "Don't break the law."

Super Pro Tip: Don't be falsely accused.

Bonus Tip: Don't be an asshole.


Sheesh Grits, I almost spit coke out of my nose... heh...

James said...

But Mexico violates their extradition treaty with us when they refuse to send anybody back if they face the death penalty.

Anonymous said...

The thing that these editorials overlook is that this issue has already been litigated in each of these cases involving foreign nationals.

The Courts have routinely found that, even if the Vienna Consular Convention has been violated, the defendant suffered no harm from these "violations".

This is just one more delay tactic for the anti-death penalty people to use.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

I'm not going to enter into the debate over whether or not Perry SHOULD grant a stay. I will state for the record that I hope he doesn't. I was actually in the courtroom when Medellin received his new death date, and it was quite a circus. I didn't fine the "reciprocal treatment" argument to be all that compelling.

My question, Grits, is do you think Perry WILL grant a stay?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

AHCL, as I wrote in the post I'll be surprised if it happens, but it could.

As for not finding the reciprocal treatment argument compelling, you must not travel much yourself. Indeed, I think that's why this issue has become confused to the point where it's basically impossible to hold a conversation about consular notification. Pro-death penalty advocates who've probably never left the country think Medellin is purely a death penalty debate - ignoring the risk to Americans abroad because it doesn't affect them - and just scream, "He's a murderer, he should die," as though that's the end of the subject.

Most Americans never travel abroad, but for the minority who do the notification issue is a really big deal (including, e.g., corporate CEOs and other monied interests who may be held criminally liable for their companies' actions). Because of Perry's ties to the Bilderberg Group, multinational Texas oil interests, etc., I would not be surprised if he's receiving significant behind the scenes pressure to issue Medellin a stay. I'd personally put the odds at 2-1 he won't do it, but it's not out of the realm of possibility.

I think Perry should stay the execution - not for Medellin's sake but for the safety of every American who travels abroad.

TxBluesMan said...

I'm sort of ambivalent over this.

On the one hand, "If you ain't Texan, I ain't got time for you" as regards to how we do things in the justice system.

On the other hand, I like to travel...

Anonymous said...

No one will give a damn about this one week after he's executed. Bottom line: the ICJ screwed up its ruling--treaties don't usually give enforceable rights and Medellin had ample opportunity to raise this when he appealed.

Time to execute this POS. And I hope it hurts too.

Anonymous said...

"Do justice, though the heavens may fall." And justice in this case is giving this p.o.s. the juice!

Skully said...

This matter was settled when SCOTUS sided with Texas. The ICJ's interference is nothing more then the undermining of our sovereignty at this point, and Texas' soverignty under the auspices of State's Rights. Until Congress takes action on this treaty; SCOTUS' ruling is the law of the land.

That said I hope Perry allows this POS to be put down.

Anonymous said...

No more stays for this piece of shit human garbage. Execute the bastard and do it when scheduled. Rid the Earth of this trash.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm a little slow...What does STFU stand for?

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'll have to stop going to Mexico if they kill this killer. Seems like a fair tradeoff to me, especially considering the drug wars that are likely to bring Mexico to an end.

There are probably several hundred thousand Houstonians who would push the plunger on this guy, folks who remember his horrible crime.

How about Texas and the World Court have an agreement. They don't tell us how to run our state and we won't tell them how to run the World Court.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"How about Texas and the World Court have an agreement"?

If that agreement means Texans are less safe when traveling beyond US borders, it's a bad deal.

The issue at hand simply isn't about the crime Medellin committed so it doesn't matter how many people want to "push the plunger." The same people would be equally complaining about US sovereignty when they tell some Mexican cop "I'm an American, I want to speak to the consulate," and they're told "Shut the F up" and bury their head in a hole full of rats and feces. Sadly, it will likely be someone else who pays for such parochial arrogance, not the anonymous, blog commenters clamoring for executions like some jacobin mob.

Anonymous said...

A Jacobin mob? So you are comparing the pending execution of a convicted defendant who has been given super due-process in the courts of this state and country and who committed the following acts: "repeatedly and viciously raped two girls: the testimony at trial established that Medellin participated in the rape of both victims. Trial testimony established that Medellin helped strangle Elizabeth Pena with one of his shoestrings. In describing the attacks later, Medellin appeared "hyper, giggling and laughing" as he recounted his role. Medellin also bragged about deflowering one of the young girls. The only remorse Medellin showed was that he did not have a gun so that the killing would have been quicker."----with the victims of a revolutionary mob who were summarily executed without trial???

You need to rethink your analogy. It doesn't hold water. A blind man could see that.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

My point is those so focused on bloodthirsty revenge ignore other important aspects of the debate that provide a counterweight. Again - this issue isn't about Medellin's crime, it's about the safety of US travelers. You can cite the heinousness of Medellin's crime all day long and it's irrelevant to the point at hand. It still doesn't outweigh putting Americans abroad at risk.

Re: jacobin, I'm referring to the comments on this string - "P.O.S.," "human garbage," "trash" - all the dehumanizaing language that allows people to justify killing in their small little minds. These aren't comments that respect or value "super due-process" - they're just anonymous bloodthirsty cowards willing to make outlandish statements when their name isn't attached to them. That analogy stands up just fine.

There are more thoughtful death penalty supporters in the world, and that characterization doesn't apply to all of them. But it certainly fits several commenters on this string.

TxBluesMan said...

Grits,

Jacobian's weren't ever part of a mob, they were patriots attempting to restore the throne to the rightful King of the Scots...

;)

A part of me that's not Native American is Scot, on my mom's side...

Fuimus!
Nemo me impune lacessit!

Anonymous said...

Since you don't like facts, how about common sense?

"First, let us be clear about applicant's claim. Born in Mexico, applicant was brought to the United States when he was three years old and, at the time he was arrested, had lived in this country for fifteen of his eighteen years. He spoke fluent English, but he never obtained, nor apparently ever sought, U.S. citizenship. So, at the time of his arrest and trial, he was legally a Mexican citizen. His claim is that no one informed him of his right to contact the Mexican consulate. This is true. It is also true that he was never denied access to the Mexican consulate. The problem is that he apparently never told any law enforcement or judicial official that he was a Mexican citizen until some four years after his conviction. Applicant never informed the arresting officers that he was a Mexican citizen. (1) He makes no claim that he informed any magistrate that he was a Mexican citizen. He points to no evidence that he informed the trial judge before or during his trial that he was a Mexican citizen. (2) We do not know what the arresting officers, the magistrate, or the trial judge would have done had any of them been informed that applicant was a citizen of Mexico. Perhaps they would have informed him of his right to contact his consulate for assistance. While Texas authorities clearly failed in their duty to inform this foreign national of his rights under the Vienna Convention, this foreign national equally failed in his duty to inform those authorities that he was a Mexican citizen. Although one would like to think that all Texas public officials are clairvoyant about the nationality of all who appear before them, they are not required to be, nor, when there is no reason to believe that a defendant is anything but a U.S. citizen, should they be."

T King said...

I think you mean Jacobite, TxBluesman:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobitism

The moniker Jacobin attaches to the radical republicans in the French Revolution of 1789, so called because they met at the Priory of St Jacques:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jacobin