Thursday, January 27, 2022


The Indiana House passes a controversial bill barring schools from teaching about Critical Race Theory, and President Biden pledges to place a Black woman on the Supreme Court for the first time.


Justice Stephen Breyer formally announces his retirement, the Dept. of Education will help students who fell behind during the pandemic, and Ariz. lawmakers consider a bill granting them control over elections.


Free COVID tests by mail but some rural Americans need to go the extra mile; farmer storytellers join national campaign to battle corporate consolidation; specialty nurses want more authority; and rare bat gets credit for the mythic margarita.

Bipartisan Agreement: TX Execution Threatens Safety of Americans Abroad


Tuesday, June 7, 2011   

AUSTIN, Texas - The planned execution of a Mexican man next month in Texas is sparking bipartisan appeals to Governor Rick Perry. The 1994 prosecution of Humberto Leal Garcia violated international law, according to an array of retired military leaders, judges, and diplomats, who say Leal was deprived of assistance from his government until after his conviction.

His attorney, Sandra Babcock, is filing a reprieve petition today. She believes the issue is bigger than justice for one man. When the U.S. violates its treaties, she says, it encourages other countries to do the same, putting hundreds of thousands of Americans at risk of languishing helplessly in foreign jails.

"U.S. service members, missionaries, teachers, businessmen. Really there are so many different people - in addition to those of us who just like to vacation abroad - who really depend on this lifeline of consular assistance."

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that foreigners are, in fact, protected by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, signed by 173 countries, but that Congress needs to amend domestic law to match provisions of the treaty.

Such legislation is expected to be introduced soon. The question is, will Leal be put to death before statutes require review of his conviction?

Babcock, who is a professor of law at Northwestern University in Chicago, says if the execution proceeds as scheduled on July 7, it would send a message that the U.S. picks and chooses which international commitments to honor.

"And if we do that, then what incentive does any country have to enter into a treaty with us about nuclear arms, business negotiations, cooperation in the fight against global terror?"

Consular assistance, Babcock says, is crucial for understanding one's rights under the laws of foreign countries. Leal, who has learning disabilities, was arrested when he was 21 for the rape and murder of a 16-year-old in San Antonio. He maintains his innocence.

Babcock says he was convicted using "junk science" and had shoddy representation.

"He had no prior experience in the criminal justice system. He had no record. Just the kind of person who has the vulnerabilities that consular assistance can make a real difference. And in this case, I think, it would have made a difference between life and death."

Among those imploring Governor Perry and the state Board of Pardons and Paroles to stop Leal's execution are Americans who know first-hand what it's like to be arrested in a foreign country: the journalist Euna Lee, imprisoned in North Korea until former President Clinton helped negotiate her release; and Billy Hayes, whose story of his 1970s arrest in Turkey became the movie, "Midnight Express."

For documentation of the Leal reprieve petition, as well as letters mentioned, go to The site is to go live as of Tuesday, June 7.

get more stories like this via email

Under a new proposal, California employees could use up to three days of paid sick leave to get and recover from a COVID vaccination. (Mangostar/Adobestock)

Social Issues

Parents' rights groups are praising a plan to extend paid sick leave for many California workers, which is now on a fast track to pass. Gov…

Social Issues

Changes to a student-loan program for public-service employees is transforming the lives of Montanans who had their debts forgiven. In October…

Health and Wellness

When the Pueblo Community Health Center opened its 14,000 square-foot facility in 2003, Pueblo's east side, home to mostly minority residents…

By 2035, there are projected to be more than 1.2 million older adults living in Minnesota (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

Minnesota is building on efforts to meet the needs of its growing population of older adults, now becoming the 10th state to join AARP's network of …

Social Issues

The past year saw American workers reassessing their jobs. However, those shifts did not result in higher union membership at the national level…

Those calling for permanent universal free school meals say research has linked them to better academic outcomes. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

This summer, a key initiative to boost school meal access during the pandemic will expire. In North Dakota, those working at the community level say …


New research suggests Earth's Sixth Mass Extinction event, on par with the one that ended the age of dinosaurs, already is under way. Noah Greenwald…

Social Issues

As local municipalities consider ways to use an influx of funds from the American Rescue Plan, some communities see it as an opportunity to support …


Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021