Law School Case Brief
Medellin v. Texas - 554 U.S. 759, 129 S. Ct. 360 (2008)
It is up to Congress whether to implement obligations undertaken under a treaty which does not itself have the force and effect of domestic law sufficient to set aside the judgment or the ensuing sentence.
Medellin had been convicted for murder and sentenced to death in Texas state court. As an inmate, Medellin filed petitions for a writ of certiorari to the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas and the writ of Habeas Corpus as well as filing an application for a stay of execution on the theory that either Congress or the Legislature of the State of Texas might determine that actions of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) should be given controlling weight in determining that a violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations was grounds for vacating his death sentence.
Should petitioner’s application to recall and stay the mandate and for stay of execution of sentence be approved?
The application to recall and stay the mandate and for stay of execution of sentence of death was denied. According to the United States Supreme Court, the possibilities identified by Medellin were too remote to justify an order staying the sentence imposed by the Texas courts. It was up to Congress to implement the obligations under the Treaty, and it had not progressed beyond the introduction of a bill. That inaction was consistent with the decision to withdraw the United States' accession to the ICJ's jurisdiction with regard to matters arising under the Convention.
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