Law School Case Brief
Jogi v. Voges - 480 F.3d 822 (7th Cir. 2007)
Even though many if not most parts of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, Apr. 24, 1963, 21 U.S.T. 77, 596 U.N.T.S. 261, address only state-to-state matters, Article 36 confers individual rights on detained nationals. Although international treaties as a rule do not create individual rights, international law in general, and thus treaties in particular, occasionally do so.
Tejpaul S. Jogi was an Indian citizen who was charged with aggravated battery. Jogi pleaded guilty to the crime; at that point, he was removed from the United States and returned to India. No state official ever advised him of his right under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, Apr. 24, 1963, 21 U.S.T. 77, 596 U.N.T.S. 261, to contact the Indian consulate for assistance. At some point after Jogi was in prison, he learned about the Vienna Convention, which prompted him to initiate several lawsuits, including the present case, in which he filed a pro se complaint in federal district court seeking compensatory, nominal, and punitive damages to remedy this violation. He named as defendants Tim Voges and two other Champaign County, Illinois, law enforcement officials, who questioned him after his arrest. Jogi's complaint relied on the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), 28 U.S.C. § 1350, which established jurisdiction in the district courts over a civil action by an alien for a tort committed in violation of a treaty of the United States. The district court found that defendants had violated the Vienna Convention, but it concluded that Jogi's allegations were insufficient to trigger subject matter jurisdiction under the ATS. The district court thus dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Jogi appealed.
Was there any individual remedy in a U.S. court for Jogi, a person who was not informed of his right to consular notification under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations?
The court reversed the district court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. The court noted that a treaty could provide a basis for a private lawsuit only if it was self-executing. The court found that, based on statements from the State Department and other evidence, the Convention was self-executing. The court then ruled that there was an implied private right of action to enforce an individual's art. 36 rights under the Convention. Under art. 36, a country could not reject every single path for vindicating the individual's treaty rights. Therefore, as there were no available administrative remedies or other alternative, a damages action was the only avenue left for Jogi.
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