Translate this page RSS Share this page Print this page


King & Spalding Successfully Represents Human Rights, Legal Groups Pro Bono in Brief of Amici Curiae in U.S. Supreme Courts Medellin Case

17 Dec 2004


WASHINGTON, D.C., December 16, 2004 – King & Spalding LLP, a leading international law firm, successfully represented a group of amici curiae supporting a petition for writ of certiorari before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Medellin v. Dretke, which focuses on whether a foreign national must be notified of his or her right to assistance from his or her consulate under the Vienna Convention. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case on December 10.

The brief the firm prepared pro bono together with human rights, civil rights and bar associations argues that Medellin, a Mexican national on death row in Texas, should have been notified of his right to consular assistance upon his arrest, as called for under the Vienna Convention, which the United States ratified in 1969. In March 2004, the government of Mexico brought a case before the International Court of Justice seeking relief for Medellin and 50 other Mexican death row inmates in the United States who were not given notice of their consular rights. The ICJ ruled in Mexico’s favor, but the Fifth Circuit disregarded the ICJ and denied the application for relief.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court will hear this case, which could have a profound impact on whether the right to consular assistance is granted to Americans living and traveling abroad who are accused of crimes,” said Kevin R. Sullivan, a partner in King & Spalding’s antitrust practice group who served as counsel of record for the parties participating as amici in the brief. “It is critical that the court resolve the conflict currently existing between the International Court of Justice and the U.S. Fifth Circuit to demonstrate that the United States upholds its commitment to the Vienna Convention and respects the rule of law.”

King & Spalding has handled two additional pro bono matters before the Supreme Court this term. In November, the firm prevailed in a pro bono immigration case for client Josue Leocal, a Haitian immigrant who was removed from the United States after serving a two and a half-year jail sentence because the Immigration and Naturalization Service interpreted his drunken driving conviction as a "crime of violence" under the law (Leocal v. Ashcroft). In January, the firm will argue a case before the Supreme Court for petitioner Robert Johnson, Jr. The case, Johnson v. U.S., involves the question of whether federal courts can keep inmates in federal prison based on state convictions that the state courts have determined are unconstitutional.

The firm filed the Medellin brief with a coalition comprised of Amnesty International, Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Hispanic National Bar Association, Human Rights First and Human Rights Watch. Also participating were the League of United Latin American Citizens, Mexican American Bar Association, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

About King & Spalding LLP

King & Spalding LLP is an international law firm with more than 800 lawyers in Atlanta, Houston, London, New York and Washington, D.C. The firm represents more than half of the Fortune 100, and in a Corporate Counsel survey in October 2004 was ranked one of the top ten firms representing Fortune 250 companies overall. For additional information, visit


Washington, D.C.