U.S. Appellate Court Holds Consular Treaty Gives No Exclusionary Rights to Defendants

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Friday, June 1, 2001
Bruce Zagaris
On February 26, 2001, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that a foreign national defendant in a criminal case cannot invoke the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (hereafter the ?Vienna Consular Convention) to suppress evidence gathered prior to according the defendant his rights under the treaty to contact consular officials of his country. The defendant Alejandro Jimenez-Nava appealed from his conviction for possession of counterfeit immigration-related documents in violation of 18 U.S.C. ยง 1546(a). He entered a conditional plea of guilty, reserving the right to appeal the District Court?s denial of his pretrial motion to suppress. He argued that the Vienna Consular Convention bestowed on foreign nationals individual rights, that his rights were violated, and that exclusion of his incriminating statements to immigration agents was the appropriate remedy. The appellate court disagreed and affirmed his conviction?[more]