Jose Medellin Executed in Texas, No Reprieve from Supreme Court

Bump and Update: Jose Medellin was executed tonight just before 10:00 pm. The Supreme Court declined to intervene. His last words:

Im sorry my actions caused you pain, he said to the witnesses present. I hope this brings you the closure that you seek. Never harbor hate.
R.I.P. Jose Medellin.

Bump and Update: Medellin was set for texecution at 6pm. No word yet from the Supreme Court which is considering his case. Stay tuned, will update further. [More....]


World Eyes on Texecution Tonight

The Bush Administration, including Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice are asking Texas Governor Rick Perry to halt tonight's Texecution of Jose Medellin now that the Texas Board of Pardon and Paroles has refused. Perry is not inclined to go along.

Medellin, a Mexican national, has been on death row since his arrest in 1993 at age 19. He confessed to the crime shortly after arrest but was not provided access to the Mexcian consulate as provided for in Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (“VCCR”).

The Bush cabinet members said proceeding with the Medellín execution without an additional hearing on the consulate issue would be seen by the world as a rush to judgment and could endanger Americans abroad.

"The board's action is against the interests of the nation and risks the safety of thousands of Americans traveling and living abroad," said Donald Donovan, a lawyer representing Mr. Medellín.

The International Court of Justice determined violations of consulate rights could be remedied through special judicial hearings that would weigh whether the cases were hurt by the failure to provide consular help. The U.S. Supreme Court said that there is a legal obligation to abide by the ICJ decision but that it would have to be done through a new federal law yet to be enacted. The Supreme Court could still grant a stay in the case.

Mexico sued the U.S. in the Court of Imternational Justice (ICJ) charging it had violated the rights of Medellin and 53 other Mexican Nationals on death row. The Court ruled in Mexico's favor. A copy of the decision is here.

In particular, the ICJ held that in all 51 cases, the United States had breached its obligations under Article 36(1)(b) to inform detained Mexican nationals of their rights, and to notify the Mexican consular post of their detention. In 49 of these cases, including Medellin’s, the ICJ found that the United States had violated its obligations under Article 36(1)(a) to allow free communication and access between Mexican consular officers and Mexican detainees, as well as its obligation under Article 36(1)© concerning the right of consular officers to visit their detained nationals.

The Wall St. Journal has this article. More TalkLeft background here, here, here and here.

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    Am I reading this right? (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Valhalla on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 11:56:56 AM EST
    BUSH is asking for the execution to be delayed?  I think my head may explode.  What is Perry's rush?

    Obviously Just Thinking Of His Own A$$ (none / 0) (#5)
    by squeaky on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 12:31:11 PM EST
    Some international law experts say Americans traveling abroad who are arrested may suffer if the U.S. does not abide by the treaty.

    Ha! (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by CST on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 03:56:18 PM EST
    Bush has enough trouble in this country, there is a warrant out for his arrest in some town in VT for war crimes.

    So many questions... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by lentinel on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 12:17:26 PM EST
    Why is Bush suddenly concerned with the consequences of the U.S. ignoring the Vienna convention when it has been so nonchalant about ignoring the Geneva convention?

    What is going on here?

    Also - is there any reason to believe that the confession might have been coerced? I am just asking whether this is a matter that has been decided one way or another. The articles don't say.

    I have a predisposition to be skeptical of the Texas system - especially since it seems they execute prisoners so often.
    And Perry's office seems real eager to add another notch to his belt as soon as possible.

    The precedent (5.00 / 4) (#31)
    by Steve M on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 06:42:36 AM EST
    What this is really about is the principle that YOU, a US citizen, should not be put on trial and executed in a foreign country without even having the right to talk to the US consulate.

    We entered into this treaty, and we should abide by it.  It doesn't mean the guy gets to go free.  The provision that protects him is the same provision that guarantees you the right to see the US consulate if you're ever charged with a crime abroad.

    If the Governor of Texas gets to ignore the treaty, then maybe the provincial governor wherever you're traveling gets to do so as well.  Great.  Enjoy your vacation.

    Why the pity? (3.66 / 3) (#26)
    by StevenT on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 04:34:33 AM EST
    He and his friends raped 2 teenage girls for an hour before they strangled them to death. Don't anyone thinks this justifies death? This seriusly of this crime is too much regardless of what nationality the perpetrator is and where the crime is committed. It is not that the facts of the case is in dispute. It is just that he did not have proper legal counsel. We should always take the seriusness of the crime into account. Some crimes are just meant to be prevented and raped with murder is on of them.

    Prevention and (none / 0) (#27)
    by JamesTX on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 05:27:44 AM EST
    "justifying death" are two different things. Believing that this is not right does not imply that I don't care about those girls. Believe me, I do. I have daughters. It is easy to get angry at Jose Medellin. That doesn't mean it is right to execute him, though.

    I noticed in searches on the net that a lot of freedom of communication was allowed for Jose, probably for the purpose of making much ado of the fact that he could write. He also made much of the fact that he was "intelligent" in his writings, almost as if he were taught or told to make that specific claim using that specific term. I don't think "intelligence" is something street gang members typically use for bragging fodder. Mean? Yes. Bad? Totally. Dangerous? You bet. Crazy? You better believe it! Connected? I can get you anything. Intelligent? What's wrong with you, man?

    I do know the very relevant issue of the definition of mental retardation is based on a deficit in "intelligence". His writing is full of grammatical errors and bizarre transpositions characteristic of brain damage, and show poorly developed metaphorical skills. I know I am a totally uninformed observer, but this kid's face has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome written all over it. Examples of the important features are this, this, this, and this. A major part of the problem with FAS kids is usually impulse control, and it is likely to be the most salient symptom before other deficits are even noticeable. More than 60% get in trouble with the law.

    I have been unable to find anything on the net regarding his competence. Obviously procedings in that area were not important enough to discuss. The face and the narratives still bother me, though. If it went unquestioned, I guess it wouldn't be that odd for Texas, though.

    Sick or disable (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by StevenT on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 05:53:14 AM EST
    Being sick or having some disability does not excuse a person from committing horrendous crimes. The only way we could enforce laws against crimes like murder with rape is to show that public the consequences of committing those crimes. And therefore crimes like these justifies death.

    My only problem with death sentences is the what if factor. But if the evidence is clear such as for this case, the perpetrator should be quickly sentence to death. Putting him to prison for decades with the tax payers subsidizing his rehabilitation is not the way to go. Can you imagine what the victims' families and the community has to go through? It's cost & benefit analysis and if the cost is too high, then swift action has to be taken.

    Family plays a role in the upbringing of a child and no parent would want to lose their child. If families can see the swift effect of severe criminal actions and its repercussions, a family will try their very best to educate the child what that should not be done. We cannot prevent teenagers from joining gangs due to many reasons, but we can prevent the worst of the crimes from being committed.


    Our society's (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by JamesTX on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 12:34:59 PM EST
    reluctance to hold incompetent people responsible for their actions is not the same as "excusing". That is the problem with the conservative movement's attempt to return to simple and prejudicial language in all of our social reasoning. Realizing that a mentally incompetent person, who cannot comprehend that what they have done is wrong, is not responsible in the same way as a person who can comprehend it and does it anyway, is not "excusing". Using the word "excusing" is conservative framing technique, and it activates the wrong metaphors for thinking about this problem. Nobody suggests that Medellin be "excused". It is just that he probably has a neurological condition that should have had him supervised and confined to begin with. When a natural disaster kills a loved one, we do not summon the police to attack and execute the disaster. We simply realize that the event was inevitable under the circumstances, and we don't focus anger in childish ways on inanimate objects. We do not "excuse" tornados, but we realize the futility of trying them for murder and executing them.

    And I completely empathize with the victims. This is always the first conservative trick -- try to make death penalty opponents out as not caring about victims. I said before that I have daughters and I understand. He is easy to hate. Please don't suggest otherwise.


    Did he deserve to die? (none / 0) (#33)
    by kdog on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 08:15:54 AM EST
    Probably...and if the loved ones of the victims wanted vengeance I wouldn't fault them one iota.

    I just cannot support murder by beuracracy...innocent people will be killed, and it will not be instituted equally and fairly.

    If the loved ones need justice, no one can stop them from getting it.  And no jury would convict them.  I can stomach an individual killing an individual...I cannot stomach killing by a faceless souless bueracracy.


    Because they are still human beings (none / 0) (#35)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 09:17:56 AM EST
    and are being executed by the state.  Their crimes are heinous and the families of the victims lives will never be the same.  I cannot imagine the pain they are going through and will have to go through for the rest of their lives.

    But that still does not justify the death penalty for me.  LWOP is just punishment in my mind and when the state kills, it cheapens the value of life for its citizens, irrespective of the character of the individual they are killing.  Monkey see monkey do.


    who cares about deter crime (1.00 / 1) (#34)
    by MrPope on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 09:14:40 AM EST
    Some people dont derserve to breath air...this guy was one of them.  the very least its one less monster on the earth..and one less mouth to feed that doesnt deserve it.  wish i could have pulled the switch.

    Thanks for the preview (none / 0) (#1)
    by standingup on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 11:51:52 AM EST
    of what Lou Dobbs will be covering this evening.  

    Honestly, I do not understand Perry's stance with this case.  There is nothing more final than an execution.  I am 100% against the death penalty but even if I did support it I would not understand the rush to conclusion when there are so many loose threads here.  How can it possibly hurt Perry to allow the proper process of our justice system to run the course in this instance?  

    It's Simple. (none / 0) (#8)
    by msaroff on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:09:54 PM EST
    Executions, even of innocent people, in Texas wins votes.

    Very Much Worth Noting (none / 0) (#4)
    by The Maven on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 12:17:35 PM EST
    that Medellin also has a new stay application and petition for a writ of habeas corpus now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.  SCOTUSblog has been providing coverage and analysis of that since the papers were first filed on Friday, with the state's oppositon submitted yesterday, and Medellin's reply filed last night.  (The links are to the SCOTUSblog posts, which in turn provide links to the filings themselves.)  As Lyle Denniston there notes,
    Since Texas' pardon board on Monday refused to provide any legal relief, Texas' governor only has authority to delay the execution another 30 days, Texas' highest criminal court has said it may not block the execution, "the decision to breach the treaty has effectively been made by the District Attorney of Harris County, Texas, who, with the approval of a state trial-court judge, set an execution date at the earliest point allowed under Texas law," the brief asserted.

    That is not where the question over observing treaty rights should be left, it concluded.

    In the course of the reply brief, Medellin's attorneys specified that they were asking the Supreme Court to put the execution on hold "for a period of one year to allow Congress an opportunity to enact implementing legislation" to carry out U.S. obligations under the treaty involved -- the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

    Medellin's final challenge is before Justice Antonin Scalia, as Circuit Justice for the area that includes Texas.  He has authority to take action on his own, but it seems likely that the decision will be shared with his eight colleagues.

    Anytime we have to rely upon Scalia to do the right thing, I can't help but be disheartened, though I'd still hold out hope.

    Wow (none / 0) (#6)
    by Steve M on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:05:43 PM EST
    If the situation is so extreme that even the Bush Administration is urging that international law be followed, that's a pretty good sign that it should be followed!

    Stunning, actually. (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:07:23 PM EST
    Bush has long spent (none / 0) (#15)
    by weltec2 on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 08:14:32 PM EST
    all his political Euros and is afraid there may come a time when he needs a loan. This is showmanship of some kind from a guy who has never even shied away from executing the mentally ill.

    I wouldn't take this at face value. (none / 0) (#11)
    by lizpolaris on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:48:45 PM EST
    What's driving this sudden international concern?  I don't know but there must be an ulterior motive.

    Actually, Not So "Sudden" (none / 0) (#12)
    by The Maven on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 02:55:27 PM EST
    The Bush Administration -- albeit very hesitatingly and in a very narrow fashion -- has been arging in favor of adherence to the relevant International Court of Justice (World Court) case since February 2005.  Mind you, they've been saying ever since that Medellin does not have a private right of action to enforce the Vienna Convention, but that presidential authority does exist to require states to obey the World Court ruling.

    Simply put, it would seem to come down to the issue of whether a state can ignore the president on a matter of international concern, and I think in that context, we all know how Bush & Pals would react to a challenge to their unilateral powers.

    The President is "the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations." United States v. Curtiss-Wright Exp. Corp., 299 U.S. 304, 320 (1936). The President, through subordinate Executive Branch officials, represents the United States in cases before the ICJ, and the President's representative serves as delegate to the United Nations and acts on his behalf in the Security Council if controversies should arise over compliance with an ICJ decision.
        --  --  --
    In particular circumstances, the President may decide that the United States will not comply with an ICJ decision and direct a United States veto of any proposed Security Council enforcement measure. Here, however, the President has determined that the foreign policy interests of the United States justify compliance with the ICJ's decision. Consular assistance is a vital safeguard for Americans abroad, and the government has determined that, unless the United States fulfills its international obligation to achieve compliance with the ICJ [ ] decision, its ability to secure such assistance could be adversely affected.
    Altruistic?  Highly doubtful.  But it's clear that their motives have nothing whatsoever to do with any actual concern for Medellin's ultimate fate.

    This is not the first time (none / 0) (#9)
    by stxabuela on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:43:19 PM EST
    TX executed Mexican national Angel Resendiz in 2006.  


    I hope this works.  First time I've tried to link.

    NOW Chimpy's finally worried about (none / 0) (#10)
    by lizpolaris on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:46:45 PM EST
    what US actions will mean for the safety of Americans abroad?  Now they are starting to be concerned?  What has wakened this White House and State Department from their 7 year coma?  Maybe it's that house he's planning to move to in Uruguay after he retires...

    Bush's appeal to Gov. Perry (none / 0) (#25)
    by Peter G on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 01:15:23 AM EST
    IMHO, had nothing to do with anything he believes or chose to do.  The United States government was ordered by the ICJ ("World Court") to do everything it could to enforce its obligations as a signatory to the Vienna Convention.  Federalism under the U.S. Constitution is extremely unusual, if not unique, in world government structures, in that there are things that the U.S. national government cannot compel a state government to do.  Bush was thus doing (or going through the motions of pretending to do) what he could, as directed by the Sec'y of State and Att'y General, so the U.S. could say it had complied, as best it was able, with the judgment of the World Court.

    So why doesn't Bush just over ride the governor (none / 0) (#14)
    by Saul on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 04:12:34 PM EST
    He has the power to stop any execution at will.

    If that's right (none / 0) (#19)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 12:33:37 AM EST
    I think he had an obligation to.

    Not right (none / 0) (#22)
    by Peter G on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 01:01:24 AM EST
    The President of the United States has power under the Constitution to grant clemency (including reprieves [temporary delays] and commutation of death sentences) only for federal offenses.  The President cannot pardon or reprieve a state offense.  The sovereign power of clemency in state cases rests with the Governor of that State.  Federalism.

    That's what I thought (none / 0) (#23)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 01:02:45 AM EST
    This seems to me an error in the Constitution. Good luck changing it. . .

    I also must admit (none / 0) (#24)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 01:04:38 AM EST
    that I had a funny thought about the prospect of Bush invading the Texas jail and repatriating Medellin to Mexico.

    Exactly. (none / 0) (#39)
    by JamesTX on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 01:17:09 PM EST
    If he meant the position to be anything other than posturing, he would have done just that. Bush has no problem exercising power, and here we have an instance where is orders were disobeyed. If anyone else tried that, they would be waterboarded.

    SC refused to halt execution (none / 0) (#17)
    by MichaelGale on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 10:26:42 PM EST

    This seems to me like a very, very big mistake (none / 0) (#18)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 12:30:49 AM EST
    Troglodytes like Rick Perry should not have this kind of power.

    Bush had already (none / 0) (#20)
    by weltec2 on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 12:39:18 AM EST
    set the bar really low when he was Gov of TX. Texas Govs now have a rep for such independence to maintain.

    I saw that also and the one guy was (none / 0) (#21)
    by nycstray on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 12:46:46 AM EST
    saying they thought he was an American citizen until after sentencing etc. According to him, Medallin never brought it up (nor did his family) until appeals. Doesn't anyone check these things when they arrest people? Verify who they are, where they are from etc?! Now, if they had a rebuttal to that on Lou, I missed it because I was listening while working, but I still found it surprising that it would even be an issue.

    It was just Bush political pandering (none / 0) (#32)
    by Saul on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 07:55:53 AM EST
    to Latinos to show compassion.  Bush already knew he would get executed and he could not intervene and over ride his buddy in Texas, but felt he could squeeze some votes from Latinos since it is a GE year by faking his compassion to this case.

    Now Medellin is dead.  Oh well.  Next!

    Texas holds the gold medal for executions.  We execute one a month on average. I live in Texas and hate that title.

    When will they learn that the death penalty does not deter crime.  If it did there would be no capital crimes in Texas. 90 percent of the other Nations of the world do not believe in capital punishment.  

    At least he died with dignity (none / 0) (#36)
    by fafnir on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 09:27:10 AM EST
    My thoughts are with the victims, the two girls whose young lives were savagely ripped from their bodies and stomped upon like trash by Medellin's "actions." My heart pains for their families, who will live until the day they die with the void left in their hearts by Medellin's "actions."

    actions (1.00 / 1) (#37)
    by MrPope on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 10:53:18 AM EST
    yes his victims didnt get to die gently and quietly and with dignity like he did.  they tied in pain and sheer terror.  wish i could spit on his grave.

    Death penalty (none / 0) (#40)
    by JamesTX on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 01:20:46 PM EST
    opponents' thoughts are with the victims, also. Jose Medellin was easy to hate. We just don't see the killing response to be the best solution to all situations that cause this kind of hate.

    Appropriate response? (none / 0) (#41)
    by StevenT on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 03:07:30 PM EST
    Then you should tell us what should be appropriate. Remember that he raped and murdered 2 underage kills. If it's only rape or only murder, there will always be a benefit of a doubt, but he did both, so the evidence is pretty clear. What should then be done to people like him, and what should be done to deter this problem from happening in the future? Education and public awareness are not the keys as we already have these tools going around.

    First of all (none / 0) (#42)
    by JamesTX on Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 12:32:31 AM EST
    He should not have been where he was in the context he was in. He should have already been under some kind of control. To ignore the social problems behind the situation is to put our heads in the sand.

    The difference between the way you and I think is the difference in the way you phrase the question and the way I phrase it:

    You say, "what should be done to him?"

    I say, "what should be done with him?"

    I act on the assumption that he is not in rational control of his behavior, for whatever reason, probably neurological. You seem to act on the assumption that there will be some kind of positive result from killing him. If the death penalty would deter, then why did it not deter him? I'll tell you why. Because the death penalty will not deter people who have no control over their actions.

    It is not a question of what is "deserved". You may incorrectly assume that I would not have the same pleasure in shooting him as you would. I have those same feelings toward him when I think of what he did. But I don't let emotional and biological responses govern my reasoning about social order. Executing people is a bad idea. The system is imperfect, and we are just now discovering how terribly imperfect it is. DNA is now showing us the terrible truth of how prosecutors have convicted and executed innocent people for decades, usually based on race or social class. Those acts cannot be corrected. Killing people is a brutal, uncivilized, and ineffective way of managing social problems. Mistakes in the process cannot be corrected. The society would be served just as well to have Medellin incarcerated for life as by killing him. If you are intent on his suffering, you should know that the former fate is probably actually worse than the latter.

    The fact that your solution involves what is done "to" him also suggests you think the purpose of criminal penalties is solely for the retribution of the victim. It is not. The victim or the victim's family do not bring the charges. The peoples' representatives do, and the penalties are in place to serve the interests of the society as a whole, not just the victim. So, you may say, crime victims in general deserve an eye for an eye. Not really. They just don't. That is why we have two systems -- criminal and civil. If you want to get into why, it will be a long discussion.