Local Dean Says Fallout Possible From Execution Of Mexican National

This week's execution of a Mexican National could have far reaching effects. Texas carried out the death sentence against Humberto Leal yesterday for the 1994 rape and murder of a San Antonio teenager. Leal's attorneys, along with the White House, tried to delay the lethal injection. They argued he wasn't offered a chance early on to seek legal help from the Mexican Consulate. As David Pitman reports, the head of a local law school says the execution may have implications for Americans who get in trouble far from home.

Donald Guter is Dean and President of South Texas College of Law.  He's a former Navy JAG who represented service members accused of crimes in other countries.  He says some nations could follow the example Texas and the U.S. set in the way they handled Humberto Leal.

"Which is, if they arrest an American overseas, they could choose to not give them access to or protection of consul, or even access to the embassy.  And, just, basically, carry forth the same process as we did in this case."

Dean Guter says the chances of that kind of retaliation are low in places like Europe.  He says something like that could happen in Mexico.  But he thinks the more likely result will be Mexico losing enthusiasm for cooperating with the U.S. in general.

"And that's a cooperation we need in a lot of areas, including the drug wars.  It might not be a retaliation that you would look at as a right on, tit-for-tat.  It may be in another area where we need cooperation, and we can't get it."

Guter supported efforts to stay Leal's execution.  He says it wasn't out of sympathy for the convicted rapist and killer, but out of support for international protections, and the rule of law.  Congress is considering a bill that would require court reviews for cases like Leal's — condemned foreigners who are not offered the help of their consulates.

 

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David Pitman

Local Host, Morning Edition

The one question David hears most often isn't "What is it like to work for an NPR member station?" or "Have you ever met Terry Gross?" (he has)...