Print View  
Supreme Court Accepts Certiorari on Medellin Case
12/10/2004 9:10 AM

The U.S. Supreme Court has accepted certiorari in the case of Medellin v. Dretke. Medellin is on death row in Texas and is one of fifty-one Mexican nationals in the U.S. whose death sentence has been impacted by an International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision earlier this year. The ICJ found that the U.S. violated the rights of the Mexican nationals under the Vienna Convention on Consular Affairs (Vienna Convention) and found that the U.S. should provide an "effective review" of their sentences and convictions. The Vienna Convention requires ratifying governments to notify any foreign citizens who are detained of their right to request consular assistance from their home country. The U.S. ratified the Convention in 1969.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit responded to the ICJ decision by rejecting Medellin's request for a writ of habeas corpus. The court ruled that because Medellin failed to raise the issue of the Convention at his 1994 murder trial, he was procedurally barred from raising it in federal court. The issue to be decided is whether the Fifth Circuit was correct in applying the usual procedural rules under which a defendant forfeits a claim not raised at at the appropriate stage to a case based on international law. The case, Medellín v. Dretke, No. 04-5928, will be argued in March.

Compiled from: Linda Greenhouse, Justices to Hear Case of Mexican on Death Row, New York Times, 11 December 2004.