Supreme Court hears arguments in international child abduction, capital cases
MarkThomas / Pixabay
Supreme Court hears arguments in international child abduction, capital cases

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in cases concerning international child abduction and capital punishment Wednesday.

Monasky v. Taglieri is a case between Michelle Monasky, an American citizen, and Domenico Taglieri, a citizen of Italy. The two met and were married in the US, and then later moved to Italy. Three years after their marriage, Monasky became pregnant with their son, A.M.T. However, during the marriage, Monasky claims that Taglieri had been abusive, and Monasky had begun to research divorce options as a result. After a separation, difficult pregnancy, and intense argument, Monasky decided to flee Italy with A.M.T, who was eight weeks old, and go to the US.

Taglieri filed a suit under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in Ohio District Court to bar Monasky’s parental rights. The district court found in favor of Taglieri, and Monasky appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, where Taglieri also won.

Monasky’s argument is based on the meaning of “habitual residence” as stated in the Hague Convention, a multilateral treaty that establishes the requirements for returning a child abducted by a parent or other person. The Hague Convention states that an abducted child must be returned to his or her country of habitual residence. However, Monasky argues the Hague Convention uses “habitual residence” to mean the state in which the child has meaningful connections with the state. Further, Monasky argues that a child does not necessarily have to have a habitual residence imposed upon them.

Also Wednesday the court heard oral arguments in McKinney v. Arizona, which examines a death sentence given to James McKinney. McKinney was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder when he and his half-brother burglarized two separate dwellings. During McKinney’s capital sentence hearing, McKinney’s post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis was brought to light. However, the trial judge could not consider the diagnosis as mitigating evidence because of the law at the time.

The sentence was affirmed by the Arizona Supreme Court. Following, McKinney filed a writ habeas corpus in federal court. The USCourt of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that it was necessary to resentence, and the state of Arizona moved for independent review. However, McKinney opposed, arguing that he had a right for his case to be reviewed under Ring v. Arizona. The issue, however, is that McKinney’s case had already been decided after Ring had been decided.

The Supreme Court must now determine whether the Arizona Supreme Court erred in its application of the law for McKinney’s sentencing, and whether McKinney’s case requires resentencing.