Op-ed: Penal Reform and the Góngora Case (In Spanish)

120px-Law_gavelBy Ernesto Canales Santos, El Norte, 6/6/2013

De nuevo nos encontramos ante un penoso caso público que no se hubiera dado de haber sido aprobada la Reforma Penal de los Juicios Orales. El País se escandalizó al enterarse que un ex presidente de la Suprema Corte (Genaro Góngora Pimentel) utilizó un juicio penal para meter a la cárcel a su ex pareja, madre de sus hijos, por una desavenencia conyugal con tintes económicos: la compra de una casa con dineros del ex Ministro que aconteció hace años.

¿Es el sistema penal el medio idóneo para dirimir estas controversias? ¿La cárcel, sin previo juicio, constituye una medida que la sociedad puede, o debe, tomar para satisfacer las dolencias del jurisconsulto? El letrado clama fraude porque su ex mujer escrituró la vivienda a nombre propio y no de sus hijos como dice que había acordado. ¿Para qué es la cárcel? ¿Por qué el “pacto social”, codificado en la Constitución, le concede el poder al Estado de meter en prisión a sus súbditos?

Read more…


Mexican Court Orders Release of Frenchwoman

prisonThe Wall Street Journal, 1/23/2013

Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday freed a Frenchwoman who had been found guilty of kidnapping and jailed since 2005, arguing that her case was plagued by police abuse, including the staging of her arrest for broadcast on live television.

“The good news is that there is a reform process on the way,” said Eric Olson, Associate Director of the Latin American Program at Washington’s Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars “The Supreme Court is a much more independent actor, and is willing to stand up for basic procedures and guarantees. But there is much more to be done.”

Mr. Olson said the Cassez case highlights the dilemma that all countries face, including the U.S., when they face a violent threat, be it kidnapping or terrorism. “There is an enormous temptation when have such a threat to throw out the rule of law,” he said. “Mexico and any country are better off in the long run strengthening the rule of law.”

Read more…

Op-ed: Mexico’s much-needed police changes

Mexican Police catch drug dealer photo by Jesús Villaseca P Latitudes PressThe Dallas Morning News, 1/28/2013

Showboating has long been a salient feature of Mexico’s criminal justice system. When major arrests occur, Mexican police and prosecutors often go into hyperdrive to publicize their law enforcement victory. Reporters are fed headline-grabbing stories of derring-do and splashy photos of the criminals standing alongside captured guns, drugs or big stacks of ill-gotten cash.

This is how Mexican authorities convince the public that they’re winning the crime fight, but don’t confuse it with actual law enforcement or prosecutorial follow-through. The reality is abysmal: only 31 percent of drug busts lead to convictions, and 80 percent of murder cases go unpunished, according to official and academic studies.

Read more…

French woman freed in Mexico kidnapping case

justice-systemLos Angeles Times, 1/23/2013

In a surprising climax to a case that has strained Franco-Mexican relations for years, Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the immediate release of Florence Cassez, a young French woman serving a 60-year sentence for her involvement with a Mexican kidnapping ring.

Cassez, 38, was arrested in 2005 along with her Mexican boyfriend, whom authorities said was the head of a kidnapping group called the Zodiacs. Although Cassez lived in a compound where victims were held, she maintained that she had committed no crimes.

Read more…