Friday, July 8, 2011

The death machine claims another life

The State of Texas murdered another person tonight.

Humberto Leal wasn't a nice person. He was convicted of a brutal crime. But murdering him doesn't change what happened. It doesn't fill the void in the lives of the family of the victim.

Mr. Leal was a Mexican national who came into this country when he was a child. Under the Vienna Convention, if a foreign national is arrested, he is supposed to have the right to consult his embassy. Mr. Leal was never afforded this right. Well, there was this one little hold up, I suppose -- Congress never passed enabling legislation giving the Vienna Convention the force of law.

I wonder, just as Jim Skelton did tonight on Execution Watch, just what relief was Mr. Leal entitled to as a result of his not being allowed to contact the Mexican embassy. Mr. Leal had lived in the United States most of his life -- he was more American than Mexican. Was his argument that had he been allowed to contact the Mexican embassy he would have had better counsel at trial? There was never a finding that his attorneys provided ineffective assistance.

The federal government, in asking the Supreme Court to stay the execution, claimed that killing Mr. Leal could lead to potential harm to Americans overseas. I feel fairly safe in saying that in no other country would an American citizen accused of murder have had the opportunities Mr. Leal had to fight his conviction. And nothing about the murder of Mr. Leal changes that.

I don't care whether or not Mr. Leal was allowed to contact the Mexican embassy after his arrest. I don't think it would have made one iota of difference in the way this matter played out. I do have a problem, however, with the State of Texas sanctioning premeditated murder by tying down a man to a gurney and pumping him full of drugs.

I have a problem with doctors and nurses and other medical professionals who cast their consciences (and oaths) aside for the almighty dollar and aid the state in its killing. I have a problem with the notion that state-sanctioned murder is somehow acceptable.

I would like to think we're better than that.

Click here to listen to the Execution Watch broadcast from July 7, 2011.

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