Thursday, April 26, 2012

LaGrand Case (Germany v. United States) case brief, 526 U.S. 111 (1999)

LaGrand Case (Germany v. United States)
526 U.S. 111 (1999)
Procedural History:

Multiple plaintiff action against a state for violation of the Vienna Convention.

Overview:

-Germany (P) filed suit in the International Court of justice against the United States (D), claiming that U.S. law enforcement personnel failed to advise aliens upon their arrests of their rights under the Vienna Convention.   Article 36(l)(b) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations provides that a state trying an alien in a death sentence case must inform the alien of his rights to have his consular authorities informed of the arrest.
-Paraguay (P), Germany (P), and Mexico (P) filed suit in the International Court of justice against the United States (D), claiming that U.S. law enforcement personnel failed to advise aliens upon their arrest of their rights, and that as a remedy for violation of the Vienna Convention, state courts should review and reconsider the death sentences to determine if the lack of consular access prejudiced the aliens.
-Germany’s (P) case involved LaGrand and his brother, who was executed before the matter came to the I.C.j. The !.C.). found that the United States (D) breached its obligations to Germany (P) under the Convention by not immediately informing La Grand and his brother of the right of consular notification, and by failing to provide judicial review of the conviction and sentence.

Issue:
Does a state that breaches its obligations to another under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by failing to inform an arrested alien of the right to consular notification and to provide judicial review of the alien’s conviction and sentence also violate individual  rights held by the alien under international law?

Rule:
a state that breaches its obligations to another under the Vienna Convention on consular relations by failing to inform an arrested alien of the right to consular notification and to provide judicial review of the alien’s conviction sentence also violates individual rights held by the alien under international law.

Analysis:
Diplomatic efforts by the German ambassador and German Members of Parliament and the recommendation of Arizona’s clemency board, failed to change the mind of Arizona Governor Jane Dee Hull, who insisted that the executions of the LaGrand brothers be carried out. Karl LaGrand was executed on February 24, 1999, by lethal injection, and Walter LaGrand was executed March 3, 1999, by gas chamber. Compare this case to a ruling by the I.C.J. involving Mexican nationals, Avena and other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States), 2004 I.C.J. 12, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to give effect to the I.C.J.’s Avena decision in Medellin v. Texas, 128 S. Ct 1346 (2008).

Outcome:
-A state that breaches its obligations to another under the Vienna Convention on Consular  Relations by failing to inform an arrested alien of the right to consular notification and to provide judicial review of the alien’s conviction and sentence also violates individual  rights held by the alien under international law. The ordinary meaning of the clause “said authorities shall inform the person concerned without delay of his rights under this sub-paragraph” of Article 36 suggests that the right to be informed of the rights under the Convention is an individual right of every national of a state that is party to the Convention.

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