Texas Defies Presidential Authority in Planned Execution of Mexican Citizen

Sunday, June 12, 2011
Humberto Leal
The state of Texas is set to execute a Mexican national convicted of murder who was never informed of his right to receive help from his home government—a violation of international law that threatens to establish a dangerous precedent affecting American citizens abroad.
Humberto Leal García, who had no prior criminal convictions, was tried, convicted and sentenced to death by Texas authorities without ever informing him of his consular rights and without notifying the Mexican consulate of the situation. Seven years ago, Leal’s case was brought before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which declared the United States had breached its obligations under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention.
To remedy the violation, the ICJ ruled that the U.S. must review Leal’s conviction and sentence. The administration of George W. Bush affirmed the ruling and told Texas to reconsider the case. However, in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Medellin v. Texas, voted 6-3 that President Bush had no right to impose his authority on the state of Texas unless Congress passed legislation making ICJ rulings binding according to U.S. law.
Without such federal legislation, Texas officials refused to comply with presidential requests, and they now intend to go through with Leal’s execution on July 7.
The refusal to review came despite the fact that Leal “received disgracefully inadequate legal representation” at his original trial, says Sandra Babcock, a Northwestern University Law School professor who is helping Leal appeal his sentence. One of his trial attorneys was “reprimanded or suspended from the practice of law on multiple occasions as a result of ethical violations,” Babcock adds, and Leal was convicted “on the basis of junk ‘bite mark’ science, since discredited by the National Academy of Sciences, and patently unreliable forensic evidence.”
In 1994, Leal was charged with raping and murdering 16-year-old Adria Sauceda after a drunken party in San Antonio. Leal, who was 21 at the time, told police that he had killed Sauceda by mistake after a fight. His supporters believe that, before imposing the death penalty, his public defenders should have brought up his unusually difficult childhood, including allegedly having been sexually abused by his parish priest, Father Federico Fernández.
A bipartisan group that includes former U.S. diplomats, retired military leaders, former judges and prosecutors, and organizations representing Americans abroad has called on Texas Governor Rick Perry and the Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant a stay of execution to Leal. If the request is ignored and Leal is executed, Americans overseas could find themselves, in retaliation, at the mercy of foreign judicial systems without the assistance of help from U.S. consulates, advocates of Leal warn.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Texas Inmate at the Nexus of Execution and Abuse (by Brnsi Grissom, Texas Tribune)
Texas Execution Could Risk Americans' Safety Abroad (by Sandra Babcock, Huffington Post)


charlie 13 years ago
i love texas!!!! perry for president 2012!!!!!!
Wecandigit 13 years ago
there are only days left to tell governor perry that leal's execution should not go forward. sign a petition urging him to grant a reprieve here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/save-humberto-leal/
DeanO 13 years ago
humberto leal garcia must be executed to uphold states rights. this is an old arguement resurrected every few years by the liberal anti-dp crowd. its settled law. scotus acted on the last case several years ago when meddelin was executed. same situation here. old news. congress has not passed or will not pass any new law. even though he's illegal he's now subject to state law and texas says he gets executed.

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