Breard v. Greene, The Republic of Paraguay v. Gilmore
523 U.S. 371 (1998)
Breard was a Paraguayan
national who was arrested in Virginia on suspicion of murdering someone.
At the time of his arrest he
was not warned that he had a right to contact the Paraguayan Embassy.
Under the Vienna
Convention on Consular Rights 36(1)(b),
foreign nationals have a right to contact their embassy when arrested.
The US was a party to the
At Trial, Breard failed to
raise a defense based on the Vienna Convention. He was convicted and sentenced to death.
Paraguay went to the
International Court of Justice (ICJ) and asked that Breard's conviction be
voided because it violated an international treaty.
ICJ issued a temporary
injunction and told the US to "take all measures at its disposal to
ensure that Breard was not executed pending a final decision."
Breard and Paraguay went the
US Supreme Court and requested a stay of execution.
The US State Dept. filed an
Amicus brief saying that executing Breard would hurt the rights of US
The US Justice Dept. filed
and Amicus brief saying that the Federal government no power to stop a
sentence issued by a State court.
The US Supreme Court denied
the stay of execution.
The US Supreme Court found
that Breard procedurally defaulted on his claim by not bringing it up at
The Court found that the
procedural rules of the forum State govern the implementation of the
treaty in that State.
Basically, the Vienna
Convention is still the law in
Virginia, but it is up to Virginia courts to determine how the law will
be applied. In this case, Virginia procedural rules are that any claims
you don't bring up at Trial are waived, so Breard had a right to use the
Vienna Convention as a
defense, he just waived it.
Compare to what would have
happened if the police hadn't read Breard a Miranda Warning. Even
though that's a violation of the 5th Amendment, if you don't bring it up at trail, you
can't bring it up on appeal.
Breard was executed.
The US went back to the ICJ
and said that they "took all measures at their disposal to ensure
Breard was not executed," but he was executed anyway.