ByÂ Mark Sherman-Associated Press
TheÂ administration said theÂ court should delay the planned execution Thursday ofÂ Humberto Leal for up to six months to giveÂ Congress time to consider legislation that would directly affectÂ Lealâ€™s case.
The 38-year-old native of Monterrey,Â Mexico, wasnâ€™t told he could contact theÂ Mexican consulate after his arrest for the murder ofÂ Adria Sauceda. His lawyers say police violated an international treaty by not tellingÂ Leal he could have consular assistance.
Legislation pending in theÂ Senate would allow federal courts to review cases of condemned foreign nationals to determine if the lack of consular help made a significant difference in the outcome of their cases. Last week, a federal judge refused to delay the execution.
TheÂ Supreme Court has previously ruled that states canâ€™t be forced to comply with the provisions of treaties without some intervening federal legislation.
The federal government rarely intervenes in state death penalty cases. The thrust of theÂ administrationâ€™s legal argument deals with the governmentâ€™s international treaty obligations, notÂ Lealâ€™s guilt or innocence, or even whether he should ultimately be executed.
â€œThis case implicates United States foreign-policy interests of the highest order,â€ including protecting U.S. citizens abroad and promoting good relations with other countries, Solicitor GeneralÂ Donald Verrilli Jr. said.Mr. Verrilli, theÂ administrationâ€™s new chiefÂ Supreme Court lawyer, has long represented death row inmates free of charge in his private practice.
The United Nations human rights office has also asked Texas to call off the execution.
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