Citation. Medellin v. Texas, 128 S. Ct. 1346, 552 U.S. 491, 170 L. Ed. 2d 190, 76 U.S.L.W. 4143, 2008-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) P50,242, 21 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 126 (U.S. Mar. 25, 2008)
Law Students: Don’t know your Studybuddy Pro login? Register here
Brief Fact Summary.
Jose Medellin (D) appealed after Texas (P) convicted him of rape and murder on the ground that the plaintiff failed to inform him of his right to have consular personnel notified of his detention by the state as it was required under the Vienna Convention. During his appeal at the Supreme Court, Medellin (D) argued that a case decided by the international Court of Justice suggested that his conviction must be reconsidered to comply with the Vienna Convention.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
(1). States courts are not required under the U.S. Constitution to honor a treaty obligation of the United States by enforcing a decision of the International Court of Justice.
(2) State courts are not required by the U.S. Constitution to provide review and reconsideration of a conviction without regard to state procedural default rules as required by a Memorandum by the President.
Jose Medellin (D), a Mexican national was found guilty for being part of the gang rape and murder of two teenage girls in Houston. He argued that the state had violated his rights under the Vienna Convention in which the United States is a party. Under the Vienna Convention, any foreign national detained for any crime has a right to contact his consulate.
Though his appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court, the Court took up his case again and Medellin (D) argument rested in part on a holding by the International Court of Justice in Case Concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mex v U.S.), 2004 I.C.J. 12 that the U.S. had violated the Vienna Convention rights of 51 Mexican national (including Medellin (D) and that their state-court convictions must be reconsidered, regardless of any forfeiture of the right to raise the Vienna Convention claims because of a failure to follow state rules governing criminal convictions.
Based on these, Medellin (D) argued that the Vienna Convention granted him an individual right that state courts must respect. A memorandum from the U.S. President that instructed state courts to comply with the I.C.J’s rulings by rehearsing the cases was also cited by Medellin (D). He further argued that the Constitution gives the President broad power to ensure that treaties are enforced, and that this power extends to the treatment of treaties in state court proceedings.
Are state courts required under the U.S. Constitution to honor a treaty obligation of the United States by enforcing a decision of the International Court of Justice?
(2) Are states courts required by the U.S. Constitution to provide review and reconsideration of a conviction without regard to state procedural default rules as required by a memorandum by the President?
(Roberts, C.J). (1). No. States courts are not required under the U.S. Constitution to honor a treaty obligation of the United States by enforcing a decision of the International Court of Justice. What the Vienna Convention stipulate is that if a person detained by a foreign country asks, the authorities of the detaining national must, without delay, inform the consular post of the detainee of the detention.
(2). State courts are not required by the U.S. Constitution to provide review and reconsideration of a conviction without regard to state procedural default rules as required by a Memorandum by the President. The presidential memorandum was an attempt by the Executive Branch to enforce a non-self-executing treaty without the necessary congressional action, giving it no binding authority on state courts.
(Breyer, J.) Texas (P) is required by the Supremacy law to enforce the I.C.J’s judgment in Avena. The relevant treaty should be found to be self-executing because the language supports direct judicial enforcement, the optional protocol is applicable to disputes about the meaning of a provision that is itself self-executing and judicially enforceable, logic requires a conclusion that the provision is self-executing since it is final and binding, the majority decision has negative practical implications, the I.C.J. judgment is well suited to direct judicial enforcement, such a holding would not threaten constitutional conflict with other branches and neither the President nor Congress has expressed concern about direct judicial enforcement of the I.C.J. decision.
(Stevens, J.) Texas failure to provide consular notice in accordance with the Vienna Convention got the U.S. into this mess and since the violation did not prejudice Medellin (D), Texas (P) ought to comply with Avena.
After last minutes appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court were rejected, Medellin (D) was executed on the August 5, 2008. The request made to Governor Rick Perry by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Mexico and the Attorney General Michael Mukassey to delay the execution citing the torture, rape and strangulation of two teenage girls in Houston as just cause for the death penalty. Congress took no action even when a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives to respond to the Court’s ruling.