Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Grounds For Murder

First, I should say that capital punishment has become increasingly questionable as increasing numbers of wrongful convictions are discovered by DNA evidence. The continuation of death sentences in this society is a black mark on any claims we as a society have to decency. In the case of Jose Medellin, though, the use of execution violates our own laws.

The crime is horrible, and is guaranteed to prevent any possibility of sympathy with the criminal. Gang rape and murder of teenaged girls - by Jose Medellin. Our Justice Department has either bungled or purposely 'thrown' the case. With the amount of politicization that has been performed on the Justice Department, my vote is for purposeful protection of the White House.

Medellin was executed yesterday, and Mexico has protested. As formerly explicated here, Medellin was convicted in a trial that offered him no access to his own, Mexican, government. His is not the only case in which this occurred. Our treaty with Mexico guarantees the access. That has reciprocity, offering the same access to any U.S. citizen arrested in Mexico. The violation of our treaty with Mexico puts our own citizens in Mexico in the position of having questionable access to their own government if they are jailed.

The stories abound of U.S. citizens arrested, wrongfully, imprisoned, without access to counsel or our government, and occasionally having to be ransomed out by relatives. The treaty that Medellin's execution has violated is intended to prevent these abuses. It hasn't been safe enough to my mind for some time to travel in some areas of Mexico, but it would be much less attractive now.

The execution came after a divided US Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch appeal from Medellin's lawyers for a reprieve that would give the US Congress and Texas legislature time to pass legislation allowing the state to comply with ICJ orders.

The US House of Representatives took up such a bill after an ICJ ruling on July 16 to postpone the execution. But Congress is now in recess until September.

The US State Department said the federal government was powerless to stop the execution, citing a the March Supreme Court decision.

"This case presents a difficult situation," said Kurtis Cooper, a Department spokesman.

"We have an indisputable international law obligation that conflicts with state law," he said.

"The Supreme Court has ruled the president has neither the constitutional power nor the legislative authority to overturn the state rules."

Medellin's execution was delayed for more than three hours while the Supreme Court wrestled with his petition.

In a 5-4 decision, the majority wrote that the chance for the legislatures to take action was "too remote" to justify a stay of execution.

The majority added that the US Justice Department never asked it to intervene in the case.

"Its silence is no surprise: The United States has not wavered in its position that petitioner was not prejudiced by his lack of consular access," read the ruling.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that Medellin's execution "will place this nation in violation of international law."

Amnesty International had urged Governor Rick Perry to stay the execution.

"Even President Bush, who signed scores of death warrants as Texas governor, concurred some time ago that the United States must honor its international obligations in this case," said Larry Cox, executive director for Amnesty in the US.

"There will be no clearer sign that Texas will have gone beyond the pale than if Jose Medellin's execution goes forward."

In Mexico City, the foreign ministry said it had sent a protest letter to the US State Department, arguing that Medellin's execution was a treaty violation.

Mexico said it was concerned "for the precedent it could set for the rights of Mexican nationals that could be detained" in the United States. (Emphasis added.)

From what I have seen of this executive branch, it is no surprise the Justice Department did not enter a plea. This way, the occupied White House shows two faces, one that goes along with the treaty - while the Justice Department throws the case away by improper and inadequate procedures. The other face is its support of death penalties, by use of that politicized Justice Department to satisfy the recidivist taste for official murder, called execution. In this instance, the really vile crime has given a boost to anti-immigrant forces and put them in conflict with international treaty supporters. It gives more sympathy to the U.S. imprisoning illegal immigrants and putting them in for-profit prisons.

Once again the executive branch has involved itself in a violation of the rule of law. Once again, the Justice Department effectively counters the function it was created to serve.

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Blogger shrimplate said...

Generally speaking, all prose falls into one of two basic categories: fiction or non-fiction.

For example, the short stories of Raymond Carver, despite their realism, are fiction.

Similarly, the body of written law produced by the Congress and courts of America is also fiction.

10:46 AM  
Blogger shrimplate said...

Oh, and this: fiction written by committee tends to be not that good.

10:48 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Sadly accurate. Law is whatever the war criminals decide it is.

12:27 PM  
Blogger kelley b. said...

"Laws? We doan' need no steenkin' laws"

So instead we get Dominionist sharia and the hand of Big Brother.

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So why has no one mentioned that Bush as president could have issued a stay of execution?
If the Whitehouse was so adamant about holding up the execution he [Bush] had a sure fire way of stopping it.

6:51 PM  

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