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25 Connecticut Journal of International Law 331 (2010)


Many in the United States who follow international law have tracked the course of the Supreme Court's 2008 Medellin case' especially closely, both before and after the Court's issuance of the decision. The case concerned the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (the "Vienna Convention, "Convention" or "VCCR"), which imposes certain obligations on the authorities of a State Party when they imprison a national of another State Party. Among these duties is the obligation to inform the foreign prisoner that the Convention affords the prisoner the right to communicate, while in prison, with consular officials from the prisoner's home country. Authorities indicate that various states in the US have been lax in providing this information to incarcerated criminal defendants who are foreign nationals.

The Medellin decision, when read with other recent Supreme Court cases, creates a veritable "maze" of obstructions for any foreign national or any foreign sovereign who wants to obtain protection in US courts under the Vienna Convention. This article will refer to this set of obstructions as the "Medellin Maze." Any incarcerated defendant trying to secure the benefits of the Vienna Convention, or the home country of any such defendant, will need to analyze possible escape routes from the Medellin Maze. Sadly, and frustratingly, each of the possible escape routes that have thus far been explored by litigants leads to an impassible obstruction, or "Dead End," in the Maze. There is one possible course of action, however, that could well furnish a viable escape route from the Maze. The purpose of this article is to delineate the nature and extent of the obstructions, or Dead Ends, currently in place, and to describe this possible plan of escape from the Maze.