Post-Avena Application of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by United States Courts
Leiden Journal of International Law, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 215-235, 2005
22 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2005
Following the judgment of the International Court of Justice in the Avena case, US courts have had a mixed record in applying the decision domestically. In this article, I examine the treatment by US courts of claims by criminal defendants alleging Vienna Convention violations, subsequent to the Avena judgment. First, I discuss the two limited decisions so far taken by the US Supreme Court regarding the Vienna Convention, and briefly explain several of the judicially-created rules that have prevented most US courts from reaching the merits of Vienna Convention claims. Next, I analyse the ICJ judgment in the LaGrand case, and provide an overview of the reception of that case by the US courts. After a summary of the Avena decision, I turn to the latest cases in which Vienna Convention claims based on Avena have been raised in US courts, focusing on the two most important decisions, and examining their contradictory rulings. As the US Supreme Court has now decided to hear an appeal in one of these cases, I conclude by arguing that the Supreme Court should take the opportunity to elucidate the role of the International Court of Justice in US law when the United States has consented to binding treaty interpretation by that court.
Keywords: Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, International Court of Justice, United States, Mexico, Avena, LaGrand, procedural default rule
JEL Classification: K33, K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation