U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
Civil Rights — qualified immunity — Vienna Convention
An arrestee cannot sue the officers under Section 1983 for failure to comply with Article 36 of the Vienna Convention.
“Perhaps, as the materials from the State Department included in the Appendix to this opinion might suggest, it would be desirable to impose a duty to notify on every law enforcement officer who encounters a possible non-U.S. citizen. But it is possible that such a rule would lead to substantial duplication of effort and confusion in the consular services. One officer might call the Chicago office of a particular country; another might call the St. Louis office; a third might call Washington, D.C. If Mordi had sued the booking officers, we might need to consider this question in greater detail, but they are no longer in the case. The interpretation and implementation of the Convention touch on the diplomatic relations of the United States, and so we think it prudent to tread carefully here. All we need to say to resolve this case is that the details of how to implement the Article 36 duty to inform the arrestee of his rights without delay have yet to be fixed. There is no clearly established law that the three Officers before us violated, and thus they are entitled to qualified immunity from suit.” Reversed and Remanded.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, Reagan, J., Wood, J.