Thursday, July 7, 2011

R.I.P. Humberto Leal

Roman Colosseum lit to protest an execution
On July 7, 2011, Texas executed Humberto Leal for the murder of 16-year old Adria Sauceda.  Leal, a Mexican National, was not informed of his consular rights and the Mexican consulate was not notified of his plight prior to his death sentence, in violation of a treaty ratified by the United States.  Had the Mexican consulate been notified, Leal would not have been saddled with the disgracefully inadequate legal representation he received at his trial.  (See It's Time For Texas To Execute International Law, Not Mexican Nationals.)

As Congress takes steps to provide a remedy in such cases where a foreign national's consular rights have been violated, Governor Rick Perry rejected a plea from President Obama to grant a reprieve and the United States Supreme Court rejected the Administration's request for a stay of execution by a vote of 5-to-4.

Justice Breyer wrote in dissent that the Court should have deferred to the Administration's modest request for a stay until the end of September to allow Congress to act, given its assessment that to proceed with the execution would “cause irreparable harm” to “foreign-policy interests of the highest order” and "endanger Americans traveling abroad."  In reaching its contrary conclusion, Justice Breyer wrote, “the court ignores the appeal of the president in a matter related to foreign affairs, it substitutes its own views about the likelihood of congressional action for the views of executive branch officials who have consulted with members of Congress, and it denies the request by four members of the Court to delay the execution until the court can discuss the matter at conference in September. In my view, the Court is wrong in each respect.”

This is the 26th execution in the United States in 2011, the seventh in Texas.


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