Humberto Leal Garcia, aka Humberto Leal  v. Texas


Petitioner Humberto Leal Garcia (Leal) was a Mexican national who had lived in the United States since before the age of two. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by a Texas court. He sought a stay of execution on the ground that his conviction was obtained in violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (Vienna Convention).

He relied on Case Concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mex. v. U. S.), 2004 I. C. J. 12 (Judgment of Mar. 31), in which the International Court of Justice (ICJ) held that the United States had violated the Vienna Convention by failing to notify him of his right to consular assistance. But the Supreme Court rejected the argument by referring to Medellín v. Texas, 552 U. S. 491 (2008), in which the Supreme Court had held that neither the Avena decision nor the President’s Memorandum purporting to implement that decision constituted directly enforceable federal law.

Leal and the United States urged to stay the execution so that Congress might consider whether to enact legislation implementing the Avena decision. Leal contended that the Due Process Clause prohibit Texas from executing him while such legislation is under consideration. The Supreme Court rejecting the argument observed that Due Process Clause did not prohibit a State from carrying out a lawful judgment in light of unenacted legislation that might someday authorize a collateral attack on that judgment. The United States argued to stay the execution until January 2012 in support of “future jurisdiction to review the judgment in a proceeding” under this yet-to-be enacted legislation. It relied on the fact that on June 14, 2011, Senator Patrick Leahy introduced implementing legislation in the Senate with the Executive Branch’s support. But the Supreme Court rejected it.

The applications for stay of execution presented to Justice Scalia and by him referred to the Court were thus denied. Thus the petition for a writ of habeas corpus was denied.