Houston Convicted Murderer Loses at Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that President Bush overstepped

his authority when he ordered the State of Texas to reopen the case

of a Mexican national on death row for rape and murder in Houston.

Houston Public Radio’s Jim Bell explains.

Jose Medellin is one of five men sentenced to die for gang raping and murdering Houston teenagers Elizabeth Pena and Jennifer Ertman in 1993. As a Mexican national, Medellin claimed he should have been allowed to contact the Mexican Consul after his arrest, as called for in the 1963 Vienna Conventions. The International Court of Justice at the Hague ruled Medellin should get a hearing to determine if his consular rights were violated, and President Bush ordered Texas to reopen the case. The state appealed to the U.S Supreme Court, and today the high court has ruled that the President has no authority over a state court, and that states aren’t obligated to obey rulings from the international court.

University of Houston Law School professor David Dow says only resolves the question of the international court’s authority. It doesn’t mean Medellin will be executed anytime soon.

“Well it means that the State of Texas is not going to be encumbered by the International Court of Justice’s decision. It’s possible that Medellin has other petitions or appeals that are currently pending, I’m not familiar with the details of that case, but it certainly means that Texas is not going to be hampered by the decision of the International Court of Justice in this particular case.”

Dow says the Medellin case still has some unanswered legal questions, and Medellin can be expected to file more appeals, but he can’t use his status as a foreign national and the Vienna Conventions as the basis of an appeal anymore. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.