Politics

Lawyers protest Gov. Perry for not halting execution of Mexico-born murderer

An international alliance of legal professionals and Democrats are putting Texas Gov. Rick Perry in the hot seat for the state’s refusal to halt the execution of a Mexico-born murderer.

“If you commit the most heinous of crimes in Texas, you can expect to face the ultimate penalty under our laws, as in this case, where [murderer Humberto] Leal was convicted of raping and bludgeoning a 16-year-old girl to death,” Perry’s press secretary Katherine Cesinger told TheDC.

“Other than a 30-day reprieve, the governor would have to receive a favorable recommendation from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant clemency in any case,” she said, adding that “the governor has not yet made a final decision on this case, which is still pending before the courts.”

The lawyer-led alliance wants “to increase their own influence and power,” and they’re using the scheduled Texas execution to restrict the authority of U.S. politicians and courts, and to create a new layer of legal appeals, said Todd Gaziano, the director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal & Judicial Studies.

The alliance includes the Mexican government; U.S and foreign left-of-center lawyers and judges; as well as top U.N. official Navanethem Pillay, a Harvard-trained South African lawyer now serving as the U.N. High Commissioner For Human Rights.

A group of U.S. lawyers and judges, headed by Charles Baird, a Texas Democrat and judge until he was ousted in a 2010 election, also called for “delaying the execution … to ensure full opportunity for congressional action and appropriate review of the case.”

Opponents of the death penalty are also joining the fight, said Gaziano, because “they want to create so may hurdles that it is impossible for America to carry out.” (GOP congressmen call on Bureau of Prisons to remove inflammatory Islamic texts)

Perry is considering a run for the White House in 2012, and will face strong criticism from Democrats for state policies that effect the state’s fast-growing Hispanic population. Democratic consultants hope to drive a wedge between GOP candidates and Hispanics, because they want Hispanics to vote in record numbers for President Barack Obama.

U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli has also intervened on behalf of the Obama administration, and on June 1, he asked that the U.S. Supreme Court delay the Texas execution, pending passage of a new federal law that would set rules related to states executing foreign nationals. Several top-level legal officials in the administration signed the request.

The federal government has an interest in the Texas case because the Vienna convention helps Americans who are arrested overseas quickly get help from U.S. diplomats. “The federal government does have a responsibility to try to implement the treaty in a way that please other nation, in part because American citizens … because other countries’ due process is not a great as ours,” said Gaziano. (Pawlenty attacks bipartisan commission to end Minnesota government shutdown)

That incentive also prompted President George W. Bush in 2004 to urge Texas to cancel the planned execution of Mexican national Jose Medellin, after the International Court of Justice in The Hague directed Texas to stop the execution of Mexican nationals.

Humberto Leal Garcia is facing execution July 7 for raping and murdering a drunken 16-year old girl in 1994. He is an illegal immigrant who had lived in the United States since he was a toddler.