On Thursday, convicted rapist and murderer Humberto Leal Garcia is scheduled to die by lethal injection in Texas. Even though no one appears to be questioning his culpability, the Obama administration's lawyers are trying to delay the death penalty sentence, and have asked the Supreme Court to put the execution on hold. The reason, as The Atlantic's Nicole Allan explained, centers around his status as a Mexican national:
Texas provided Garcia with court-appointed lawyers, but at no point during his arrest or  trial did the state inform him of his right to contact the Mexican consulate, which could have provided him legal aid. This right is guaranteed by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, signed by the U.S., Mexico, and 171 other nations. In its treatment of Garcia, Texas was in violation of international law.
Whether or not Garcia's sentencing would have been different with the help of Mexican lawyers, Texas's decision puts the U.S. in a difficult position abroad -- many worry that, if we do not respect the consular rights of foreign nationals, other countries will have less incentive to respect those of our citizens.
Garcia's lawyers, through ABC News, have argued that the consulate's legal representation would have mattered: "The Mexican consulate would have provided experienced and highly qualified attorneys who would have challenged the prosecution's reliance on junk science to obtain a conviction," said his lead counsel. But as of now, the news outlet notes, "only the Supreme Court or Gov. Rick Perry of Texas have the power to delay the execution and Perry has indicated that he is not sympathetic to the international court's finding." The court has until Thursday to make a decision to halt the execution.
- Politics & Government
- Crime & Justice
- Humberto Leal Garcia