Friday, December 6, 2013

Medellin v. Dretke case brief

Medellin v. Dretke case brief summary
125 S.Ct. 2088 (2005)

Petitioner state inmate, an alien sentenced to death, sought habeas relief, claiming the trial court failed to notify him of his right to consular access under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, Apr. 24, 1963, (1970) 21 U.S.T. 77, 100-101, T.I.A.S. No. 6820. The district court denied the petition. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied a certificate of appealability. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.

While the appellate decision was pending, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) determined that the Convention guaranteed individually enforceable rights, which were violated by the United States, and that the United States had to review and reconsider 51 Mexican nationals' convictions and sentences for actual prejudice. The Fifth Circuit denied the COA based on procedural default and its prior holdings that the Convention did not create an individually enforceable right.


  • After the Supreme Court granted certiorari, the President of the United States issued a memorandum stating the United States would discharge its international obligations under the ICJ judgment by having State courts give effect to the decision in accord with general comity principles. 
  • The inmate then filed a successive state habeas petition. 
  • The Supreme Court held that the state proceeding could provide the review and reconsideration required. 
  • Based on this fact, the President's memo, and the potential for review in the instant Court once the state courts had decided the pending state action, the Court chose not to reach and resolve the multiple hindrances to dispositive answers to the questions presented.

The court dismissed the writ of certiorari as improvidently granted.

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1 comment:

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

    The US Supreme Court ruled that the Vienna Convention is not a self-executing agreement, and that congress has not passed the necessary legislation which would require that Texas review Medellin’s conviction.
    This was held 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.


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