Victims' Rights Caucus



Madam Speaker, the year was 1993, 15 years ago, when two teenage girls, Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena, 14 years of age and 16 years of age, were walking home one evening. Unfortunately for them, when they took a shortcut, they came across a gang by the name of the Black and Whites. Their gang leader was Jose Ernesto Medellin.

He and his fellow gangsters kidnapped these two teenage girls, brutally assaulted them, taunted them, raped them for over an hour, and then with the shoelaces from the tennis shoes of these two girls, they made a noose and strangled both of these girls.

The brutal killing that took place, Madam Speaker, as you are aware being from Houston, incensed the people of the Houston area, especially the way in which these two girls met their death. But 5 days later, Jose Medellin was arrested, and in his possession, he had on his wrist a Mickey Mouse watch that he had stolen from Jennifer Ertman, his token of the murder of a little girl. He was proud of what he had done. He was so proud of it he even bragged about it and confessed to the Houston Police Department of raping and killing these two girls after he was properly warned.

He was tried for capital murder. The State was seeking the death penalty, and 12 jurors in a court in Houston, Texas, convicted him and gave him the death penalty, which he earned and deserved for what he did to these two teenage girls. He appealed his case all the way to Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court of the United States upheld his conviction saying it was lawful. But that was not the end of the story.

Because, you see, 15 years later Jose Ernesto Medellin is still alive. And back when this trial occurred 15 years ago, I met the families of these two teenage girls, and they to this day continue to suffer and wonder if justice will ever be served. And the reason that he has not met his just reward is because he appealed his case again to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court right down the street last week upheld the conviction for a second time.

His second appeal was somewhat unique because, you see, it turns out Jose Ernesto Medellin, who was fluent in English, apparently is illegally from the nation of Mexico, and he was an illegal immigrant when he committed this homicide. Back in the days of 1993, the Houston Police Department didn't even ask people what nationality they were when they arrested them, but be that as it may, the Mexican Government then decided to sue the United States of America in the World Court, claiming that the State of Texas should have told Jose Ernesto Medellin that he had the right to consult with the Mexican consulate before he confessed. Of course, the Houston Police Department never told him he couldn't consult with the Mexican consulate. He was warned properly under Federal law and under State law.

But the Mexican Government was not satisfied with that after the conviction was upheld, and 10 years later, they filed this lawsuit in the World Court. And the World Court ruled that the State of Texas had to retry Jose Ernesto Medellin for capital murder because he was not told he should have been allowed to talk to his Mexican consulate.

Of course, this gets more complicated because, you see, the President of the United States intervened on behalf of the nation of Mexico. After this decision was made in the World Court, the President of the United States told the courts in Texas to follow the World Court order, retry Jose Ernesto M