In the courts: Lawsuits on behalf of Border Patrol murder victims Sergio Hernández-Güerec and Juan Pablo Perez Santillán

The lawsuit regarding the 2010 murder of 15-year-old Sergio Hernández-Güerec at the hand of the Border Patrol’s thugs might not be as dead as many had thought.  The San Antonio News-Express reports that it is headed for the appellate courts, and there appears to be a reasonably good chance that the unilateral decision of the district court judge to dismiss the case will be reversed.

San Antonio News-Express:  Death of man in Mexico raises constitutional question in U.S. (Nov 25 2012)

Houston lawyer Bob Hilliard, the attorney in the case, has taken it to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and said he’s prepared to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Whether the agent acted in self-defense should be a jury question, he said.

“It can never be that he gets to decide for himself, you know, judge, jury and executioner within 20 seconds.”

“It’s just a hole in the constitutional interpretation to date,” he said. “Right now we have literally a venue vacuum that you can step inside of, pull a weapon and murder a Mexican citizen and then you just argue either justifiable homicide, self-defense, whatever you argue.”

“It seems like the default philosophy has been and now has settled into the life of a Mexican is not as valuable as a life,” Hilliard said. “That is the unspoken undercurrent of so much of what’s going on on the border. And that slope is so slippery.”

The constitutional question enthralls legal experts.

“The Supreme Court has held that the Fourth Amendment does not apply for actions outside the U.S., and excessive force claims are brought under the Fourth Amendment,” Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law expert at the University of California at Irvine, wrote in an email.

Since the alleged deadly force originated in the U.S., Chemerinsky responded: “That makes it a truly fascinating case and certainly not a situation covered by Supreme Court precedents.”

Michael Steven Green, a law professor at the College of William & Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law, said the Hernández-Güereca case against the agents could prove easier to get overturned than Boumediene vs. Bush, the landmark Guantanamo detention case in which the Supreme Court sided with detainees.

The article further notes that the family of Juan Pablo Perez Santillan, who was also murdered by Border Patrol thugs last July, is moving forward with their lawsuit.  After the shooting, the thugs admonished Juan Pablo Perez Santillan’s family & friends to “Let the dog die.”

The murder of Juan Pablo Perez Santillanwas previously blogged here:

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