Thursday, November 16, 2006

More Wretched Opinions: CCA spites Bush, US Supreme Court on Mexican consular notification

The media and legal blogosphere are abuzz with news that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals defied President Bush, the US Supreme Court (no surprise, at this point), and the World Court with their decision in the Medellin case over whether Texas must notify the Mexican consulate when Mexican nationals are arrested.

From Howard Bashman at How Appealing, leave it to the CCA to come out to the right of President Bush, much less the US Supreme Court, regarding the rights of Mexican nationals in death penalty cases. SCOTUSBlog and Opinio Juris, have more. Here's the New York Times coverage, the SA Express-News, and the Houston Chronicle's. Find links to all the opinions over at Howard's shop. (UPDATE: Wretched of the Earth adds his two cents with another CCA Update entitled, "Texas Gives Middle Finger to the World.")

President Bush has sunk far when an all-Republican Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rebuffs his overt demands. Granted, he was taking up for the rights of a Mexican and a murderer, which as South Texas Chisme notes was unfamiliar ground for the President. So the politics of the case are highly charged in all directions.

Meanwhile, the Wretched of the Earth continues his great weekly series analyzing cases from the Court of Criminal Appeals hand down list. This weeks he looks at a case where the CCA upholds sentence stacking and offers fragmented views on the right to remain silent and what constitutes ineffective assistance of counsel.

The issues raised in Ex Parte Donald Heidelberg, which Wretched discussed, were particularly interesting: I didn't know Texas constitutional law provides stronger protections to defendants than the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution on whether defendants' silence may be used against them by prosecutors in court. Defense counsel who fail to raise objections on state constitutional instead of federal grounds, the CCA found, could be considered ineffective under the ruling.

Great job, Wretched, casting more light on a court that's nearly constantly embarassing the state of Texas on the national stage.

UPDATE: Jason, a Houston cop at Cigars, Donuts and Coffee, liked the Medellin decision. Beyond the Border blog wonders why the Mexican government isn't more concerned. Dorf on Law looks at a possible upside for internationalists. CrimProf blog wonders if the CCA thinks its above the law?


Mike Howard said...

I plan to blog the Medellin case later today. I read about 2/3 of it last night - it's very long. I'll post it today and link to the various coverage you mention here. I probably won't be adding anything new to the discussion, but just in the vein of offering complete coverage of the CCA's important opinions.

Mike Howard said...

Okay, my post is up:

Now I'm very, very tired.