Lawyers for Edgar Tamayo, a Mexican citizen who is set to be executed tomorrow night for the murder of a Houston police officer back in 1994, will have one more chance today to urge a judge to postpone his death, 1200 WOAI news reports.
A federal judge in Austin has scheduled an emergency hearing to consider claims by defense lawyers that the Texas clemency process is flawed, and the State Board of Pardons and Paroles makes its decisions 'by fax' and never gave Tamayo's claims any consideration.
Sandra Babcock, who is one of Tamayo's lawyers, says it is a very important issue, and she says the 'whole world is watching.'
"The International Court of Justice ordered U.S. courts to provide review and reconsideration of the convictions and sentences of the 51 foreign nationals who were the subject of the Avena Judgment, and one of those individuals is Mr. Tamayo," she told 1200 WOAI news.
In the Avena Judgment in 2004, the court ruled that individuals arrested in foreign countries must be given the opportunity to meet with their nation's representatives as soon after their arrest as possible. Babcock says Tamayo was denied that right, and had it been granted, Tamayo would have received better legal representation and would have been able to convince a jury to sentence him to life in prison, and not hand down the death penalty.
Babcock says those facts have never been presented to the Board of Pardons and Paroles.
"Clemency is supposed to be the 'failsafe' in our system," she said. "Texas' clemency system, as detailed in a recent American Bar Association report, provides less process than any other state. This is a case in which the Secretary of State has warned of the dire consequences that could result from Mr. Tamayo's execution."
Secretary of State John Kerry warned that if Texas executed Tamayo, it could place Americans in other countries in danger, because other nations will be less inclined to grant basic rights to U.S. citizens who are arrested abroad.
Texas officials have said that Tamayo was fairly tried and convicted by a Texas court, and people who break Texas laws need to be prepared to face Texas justice.