July 11, 2001
BY FAX TO 405-521-3353
(ORIGINAL TO FOLLOW)
The Honorable Frank Keating
Governor of Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
Dear Governor Keating:
I am writing with respect to the case of Gerardo Valdez Maltos, the Mexican national whose clemency petition you are now considering. In previous correspondence, I noted that an investigation by the Oklahoma Attorney General's office indicated that Mr. Valdez was not properly informed by law enforcement authorities of his right to have the Mexican consulate notified of his arrest and detention, as required by Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR). I know from our subsequent conversation about this case that you are fully aware of the failure of consular notification in the case of Mr. Valdez, and that you are giving it careful consideration in the context of his clemency petition.
Since our last communication on this matter, the International Court of Justice has issued a decision in Germany v. United States (LaGrand), a case in which the Federal Republic of Germany contended that the United States and the State of Arizona violated Article 36 in connection with the arrest, trial and execution of two German nationals. We understand that you also have received a copy of the decision, in which the Court stated its view that Article 36(2) of the VCCR was violated "by not permitting the review and reconsideration, in the light of the rights set forth in the Convention, of the convictions and sentences of the LaGrand brothers . . . ." In conjunction with the Department of Justice, we are continuing to study the Court's decision and its potential implications.
Pending completion of that review, I respectfully request that, as part of your consideration of the Valdez case, you specifically consider whether the VCCR violation had any prejudicial effect on either Mr. Valdez's conviction or his sentence. In assessing whether the violation had a prejudicial effect, you may wish to consider the extent to which the violation may have had a substantial adverse effect on the quality of Mr. Valdez's legal representation at the guilt or sentencing phases, and if so, whether any resulting deficiencies in counsel's performance, when considered in light of the trial record or other available information, substantially undermine your confidence in the correctness of the conviction or sentence. In rendering your decision on Mr. Valdez's clemency petition, you might consider preparing a written statement setting out your consideration of these points.
I very much appreciate the careful attention you have given to this important issue.
William H. Taft IV