Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mess with Texas

The state of Texas executed Jose Medellin yesterday in defiance of international treaties signed by the United States and over the objection of the death penalty friendly Bush Administration. Medellin was part of a horrible gang rape and strangulation murder of two teenage girls fifteen years ago. The only member of the gang to be executed so far (two others remain under sentences of death while two others were sentenced to death but were commuted to life in prison). Medellin was 19 at the time (a year younger and he could no longer face execution).

The international law issue arose because the United States is party to a treaty that requires signatory nations to provide access to counselors from their home nation after being arrested. Medellin was never provided this counselor assistance. Since Mexico is strongly opposed to the death penalty, and advocates for its citizens caught up in the US justice system, and since obtaining good legal assistance as early as possible is the most crucial factor in any capital case, there is good reason to believe Medellin might not have been sentenced to death had Texas followed US law (treaties have superiority to any state law).

This counselor access treaty operates to protect Americans when they get arrested in a foreign nation, which is why the Bush Administration has sought repeatedly to get Texas to remove Medellin from death row. But protecting Americans is not a priority for the state of Texas which apparently puts its rituals of vengeance above any other consideration. Texas has long put itself apart from the rest of the nation in its practice of execution. With 26 executions in 2007 (down from as many as 50 per year in the 1990s), Texas executed more people then all the other states in the union combined.

There are a lot of good people in Texas, including some of my loved ones, and many of them despise the state's reputation as blood thirsty state. But as much as I'd miss the art and the barbecue in Houston, and the music in Austin, its time to face the truth. Texas belongs in some other union. So I'm personally appealing to Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Legislature to secede from the union.

As Phil Och's once wrote of Mississippi, "find yourself another country to be part of." I would suggest China, Iran, Nigeria, or some other country that better fits your moral values.

3 comments:

Glen Graham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glen Graham said...

Professor, I don't always have time to post a comment or read all of your blog, but keep on blogging anyway. Successful trial lawyer, Gerry Spence has started his blog over at http://www.gerryspence.wordpress.com/ and of course, New Yorker - Scott Greenfield is at "simple justice" and good ole' Mark Bennett down in Texas is blogging gold at "Defending People - art and science of criminal defense - http://www.bennettandbennett.com/blog/ and in Oklahoma -- I like to pretend to rule the roost in our "local" blogosphere - http://www.oklahomacriminaldefense.blogspot.com/
Yours in defense of fellow human beings,
Glen R. Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Hemelrick said...

Plato used to argue that the only evil was ignorance and the only good was education... Perhaps the best way to attempt a policy change, in such a large scale, actually means to educate the population... This issue is intrinsically tied to religion as well and more specifically to religious misconceptions.

Members of the population must require from the leadership a little more than just extreme punishment since this only begets two losing parties, the victim and the law infractor.

Our population is educated and raised to behave in such a manner that the punishment takes preponderance to any potential solution in the long term; this happens very especially in the southern areas which are also suffering from poverty and other social ailments which are the by product of failed leaderships of the past and present.

An educated, or at least well read and fully informed individual (agent, as prescribed by the categorical imperative (Immanuel kant) is one who is able to have an objective and unbiased view of the world and its growing pains.

Our population is not well informed and more often than not cases such as medellin's case serve as a distraction from the failures of leadership in many other areas of public administration....Example: "We have a bad economy so let's deport all illegals because they are causing it..."