Medellin v. Dretke
125 S.Ct. 2088 (2005)

  • Medellin was a Mexican national, convicted of murder in Texas and facing the death penalty.
    • At the time of his arrest he was not warned that he had a right to contact the Mexican 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 Convention.
  • The Texas State Court found that Medellin could not raise the issue of the Vienna Convention on appeal because he did not raise it at trial.
  • After exhausting his appeals in Texas courts, Medellin filed a writ of habeus corpus in Federal Court raising the Vienna Convention claim.
  • The Trial Court denied the claim. He appealed.
  • The Appellate Court denied the claim, He appealed.
    • The Appellate Court found that the Vienna Convention did not create an individually enforceable right.
  • Before the case could be heard by the US Supreme Court, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that the US had violated the individually enforceable rights guaranteed by the Vienna Convention and must reconsider the convictions.
  • President Bush issued a memo requiring the US to follow the ICJ's ruling by having State courts review the Mexicans' cases.
  • The US Supreme Court sent the case back to Texas State Court.
    • Citing the memo and the ICJ ruling, The US Supreme Court found that Medellin had not exhausted his State Court appeals and sent the case back to Texas State Court.
  • The Texas State Courts affirmed. Medellin appealed.
  • The US Supreme Court affirmed.
    • The US Supreme Court found that the Vienna Convention is not a self-executing agreement, and congress has not passed the necessary legislation that would require Texas in its procedures to review Medellin's conviction.
      • Despite the fact that the Restatement of Foreign Relations Law 1111.3-4 states that international agreements should be considered self-executing unless the agreement "manifests an intention" that it requires implementing legislation.