Convictions Of Foreign Nationals Not Told Of Rights Are Upheld

2006

Moises Sanchez-Llamas, a Mexican national, was arrested after a shootout with police in Oregon. Officers did not inform him that he could ask to have the Mexican Consulate notified. According to the Vienna Conventions, any signing country is obligated to inform other treaty members’ consulates if one of their citizens is arrested in that country. During interrogation, Sanchez-Llamas made incriminating statements. Before his trial for attempted murder and other offenses, Sanchez-Llamas moved to suppress those statements because his Vienna Convention rights were violated. The state court denied that motion, and Sanchez-Llamas was convicted and sentenced to prison. The Oregon Court of Appeals, the Oregen Supreme Court, and the U.S. Supreme Court all affirmed.

Mario Bustillo, a Honduran national, was arrested and charged with murder in Virginia, but police never informed him that he could ask that the Honduran Consulate be notified. He was convicted and sentenced to prison, and his conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal. He filed a habeas petition in state court arguing, for the first time, that authorities had violated his right to consular notification. The court dismissed the claim because he had failed to raise it at trial or on appeal. The Virginia Supreme Court found no reversible error, and the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed.