As the New York Times reported yesterday, time is running out for Humberto Leal Garcia, Jr., who is scheduled to be executed in Texas on July 7. Convicted of a 1994 murder and aggravated sexual assault, Leal, a Mexican citizen, was not notified of his right to contact his consulate pursuant to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and subsequently sentenced to death. The treaty violation could have been the difference between life and death; some legal experts argue that while help from the Mexican consulate, particularly better counsel, may not have gotten Leal acquitted, he may well not have been sentenced to death. When Leal later learned of his Vienna Convention rights, his right to object to their violation was considered waived under state procedural default rules.
Leal was one of fifty-one plaintiffs in an International Court of Justice case brought against the United States in 2004, Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America), in which the ICJ ruled that the United States was obliged to review and reconsider sentences of Mexican nationals convicted without being notified of their rights under the Vienna Convention. In Medellin v. Texas, the Supreme Court decided in 2008 that the Vienna Convention was not a self-executing treaty and did not give rise to rights enforceable in U.S. courts without implementing legislation enacted by Congress. Leal’s lawyers recently requested a stay from the Southern District of Texas, arguing that Leal had a due process right to stay alive until Congress voted on such legislation, but were rebuffed. Despite pressure from human rights groups, Texas Governor Rick Perry has indicated his intention to proceed with the execution.
Read the full New York Times article here.