FOREIGN NATIONALS: Texas Execution Delayed Following State Department Request

A hearing to set an execution date for Texas death row inmate Humberto Leal was postponed after the presiding judge received a letter from a high-ranking U.S. State Department official. Leal, a Mexican citizen who was sentenced to death in 1995, had already been transferred to Bexar County Jail for the hearing to set the execution date. Harold Hongju Koh, a top legal adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, wrote the judge requesting an indefinite postponement while Congress is working on legislation that could affect Leal’s case. Leal is one of 51 Mexican citizens included in a 2004 ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) (Avena and Other Mexican Nationals) that Mexican foreign nationals on U.S. death rows were not given proper notification of their rights to contact their foreign consulate. Koh said that the case is important in U.S. foreign relations, and wrote that, “The Executive Branch is engaging in consultations with Congress and with the Government of Mexico to determine how best to ensure the United States complies with its obligations under Avena.”

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Lawyer For British National Had Many Clients Sent to Texas Death Row

Twenty clients of Texas defense attorney Jerry Guerinot have been sentenced to death–a number higher than the death row populations of 18 death penalty states around the country. Guerinot also represented Linda Carty, a British national who was facing the death penalty for arranging a murder.  She asserts she was wrongly convicted and poorly represented by Guerinot.  He failed to visit her for three months after being appointed her counsel, did not call key witnesses who would have testified on her behalf, and neglected to contact the British Consulate for legal assistance. Regarding trial preparation, Carty stated, "I met this guy for less than 15 minutes. Once."  David Dow, litigation director of the Texas Defender Service, which represents some of Guerinot's former clients who are now on death row, said the large number of death sentences reflect a failure to conduct simple investigations. "He doesn't even pick the low-hanging fruit which is hitting him in the head as he's walking under the tree."  Steve Humphries, a filmmaker investigating Carty's case, said in a brief urging the Supreme Court to hear Carty's case, "It is no exaggeration to suggest that Mr. Guerinot has perhaps the worst record of any capital lawyer in the United States."

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FOREIGN NATIONALS: British National Faces Execution in Texas

When citizens of other countries are arrested in the U.S., special notification procedures are required under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, a treaty that the U.S. has signed and ratified.  These same procedures apply to U.S. citizens arrested in other countries.  There are over 130 people on death row in the U.S. from other countries, and many of them were not afforded their notification rights under the Vienna Convention.  Linda Carty is a British national on Texas' death row from St. Kitts.  She could face execution if her request for a retrial is denied.  She currently has a petition before the U.S. Supreme Court claiming she received inadequate representation during her original trial and that the United Kingdom could have provided additional legal support if the proper procedures had been followed in her case. Carty's attorneys assert that Texas authorities neglected to inform the British Consulate that she held a UK dependent-territory passport. Carty has always maintained her innocence of the murder that placed her on death row.

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