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Mexican government hires lobbyists, lawyer to help nationals facing capital punishment

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The Mexican consulate in Tuscon hired Arizona-based lawyer Gregory Kuykendall  for legal service and advice for Mexican nationals charged with crimes that could lead to a death sentence and for those already sentenced, recently filed disclosures under the Foreign Agents Registration Act filing show.

Kuykendall is the director of the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance program, established by the Mexican government in September 1999 to provide guidance and assistance for the legal defense of their nationals in capital cases. The Mexican government has paid $3.5 million for this program for a period between June 2010 and May 2011.

According to the document, “… the Program shall not take on the direct representation of Mexican nationals facing death penalty procedures. However, in specific cases, attorney Kuykendall or his staff could get involved in the direct defense…” The filing also cites 189 names of individuals this program may aid.

Mexico contends that it is a violation of international treaties for U.S. authorities to fail to advise their nationals accused of crimes that they have a right to contact their consular officials before being tried in U.S. courts. 

Kuykendall had to register with FARA after he contracted with two outside lobbying groups, the Raben Group and Brownstein Hyatt LLP, who contacted lawmakers and their staff about the enforcement of International Court of Justice rulings in pending cases. The two groups were hired between October 2010 and March 2011, disclosures show, and have worked on other capital punishment issues for Mexico in previous years.

Brownstein’s FARA records show that lobbyists from the group met with, senior counsels for the Senate Judiciary Committee on Dec. 10, 2010 to discuss the “implementation of the International Court of Justice’s decision in the Case concerning Avena and other Mexican Nationals…” This case refers to a 2004 verdict by the United Nations judicial body, which found that the United States breached its obligations on various counts to several Mexican nations.

The groups’ lobbyists also contacted several staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Judiciary’s Crime subcommittee on proceeding with legislation to implement the Avena verdict. Raben Group's contacts with lawmakers and their staff are about the same issue, FARA filings show.