Today, three powerhouse law firms, Hilliard Muñoz Gonzales, LLP, Hilliard & Shadowen, LLP and Gupta Wessler PLLC asked the United States Supreme Court to review the Fifth Circuit's decision holding that a U.S. Border Patrol agent who shot and killed a Mexican teenager standing in Mexico from across the U.S. border had qualified immunity and could not be sued by the teen's family.
Standing in Texas, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Jesus Mesa, Jr. shot Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca, the unarmed teenager, twice in June 2010 after detaining one of Hernandez's friends near the border fence. The Fifth Circuit, though initially ruling in favor of Fourth Amendment protections for Jesus, vacated a prior panel decision at the request of the government and determined that in fact Hernandez's family couldn't sue under the Fourth Amendment because Hernandez was a Mexican citizen, on Mexican soil and had no significant voluntary connection to the U.S.The court disagreed on whether Mesa's actions violated Hernandez's Fifth Amendment due process rights but agreed that any right Hernandez had as a foreign national would not have been clear to Mesa at the time of the shooting. Mesa did not know the nationality of Hernandez when he fired his weapon.
Different federal courts have now ruled different ways, says Robert C. Hilliard, attorney for Hernandez. Border Patrol Agents around the country face different standards. Right now, at this moment, Border Patrol agents in Texas know they have the blessing of the Fifth Circuit and can shoot and kill an innocent boy standing in Mexico and be immune from civil liability. But Border Patrol agents in California and Arizona know they have to hold their fire—as murder of this type has been disapproved of by the federal appellate courts with jurisdiction over those states, and civil liability allowed. Agents in New Mexico are not sure if they are free to shoot to kill or not. Itâ€™s all very confusing for these armed governmental agents who patrol the borders of our country.
It seems ridiculous that the life or death of an innocent Mexican citizen standing in Mexico should turn on what State in the U.S. he is staring at and standing across from.
The time is ripe for the Supreme Court to weigh in on this issue, which has immeasurable significance.Roughly one million U.S. citizens live in Mexico, including more than 500,000 children, many of whom were born in American border cities like El Paso but have Mexican family and reside across the border in Mexico.Sergio easily could have been one of these American children, playing with his friends on a warm summer day, and Mesa would not have known.If he had been, Mesa would not be immune from suit.â€
Hilliard Muñoz Gonzales LLP (HMG) specializes in mass torts, personal injury, product liability, commercial and business litigation, and wrongful death. Hilliard Muñoz Gonzales LLP has been successfully representing clients in the United States and Mexico since 1986. Bob Hilliard obtained the Largest Verdict in the country in 2012 and the #1 verdict in Texas in 2013.