Thursday, 17 July 2008

NY Partner Faces Off Against U.S. in World Court in Pro Bono Fight

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NY Partner Faces Off Against U.S. in World Court in Pro Bono Fight

New York Lawyer
July 17, 2008

By Nate Raymond
The American Lawyer

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In the race to stop the execution of a Mexican citizen in Texas, a Debevoise & Plimpton lawyer has found himself facing off against the United States in the World Court.

On Wednesday, the International Court of Justice ruled the U.S. must take "all measures necessary" to stop the executions of five Mexican nationals facing death sentences in Texas. One of the nationals, José Medellín, is scheduled for execution August 5. Debevoise partner Donald Francis Donovan has represented Medellín pro bono as his case jumped between the U.S. Supreme Court and the World Court. Donovan also represents Mexico.

"We are confident the United States and the State of Texas will comply with the ICJ's order and stay the August 5th execution of Mr. Medellín," Donovan said in a statement.

Enforcing the order will be tricky, however. In 2004, the World Court determined that 51 Mexican nationals weren't told they could seek help from their consulate upon arrest, a violation of the Vienna Convention. The court ordered the United States to review each case to determine if any of them were harmed by the violation.

The Bush administration ordered states, including Texas, to comply with the order. But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in March that order was unconstitutional. The Washington Post reports that the Bush administration expects today's decision will have little impact.

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