Upcoming Event | Taking Stock of Mexico’s Transformation to an Adversarial System of Justice: Accomplishments, Future Challenges, and Lessons Learned since 2008

justice - gavel and bookWHEN: Monday, July 25, 10:00am-1:00pm

WHERE: 6th Floor Auditorium, Wilson Center

Click to RSVP

Mexico recently completed an eight year process that has transformed the federal and state justice systems from an inquisitorial to an adversarial one. This process began in 2008 with the adoption of constitutional and criminal procedural reform and was completed in June 2016. Please join the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute for our conference “Taking Stock of Mexico’s Transformation to an Adversarial System of Justice: Accomplishments, Future Challenges, and Lessons Learned since 2008.

Featuring a Keynote Address by:
The Honorable Arely Gómez Gónzalez
Mexico’s Attorney General

Welcoming Remarks
Duncan Wood
Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

Ambassador Earl Anthony Wayne
Former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico
Public Policy Fellow, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

Followed by an Expert Panel on Mexico’s Transition to an Adversarial Justice System
Layda Negrete
Coordinator, Quality of Justice Project, México Evalúa

Maria Novoa
Centro de Investigación para el Desarrollo, A.C. (CIDAC)

Miguel Sarre, LLM
Professor, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM)

David Shirk
Professor, Director, Mexico in Justice Project, University of San Diego
Global Fellow, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

Eric L. Olson
Special Advisor for Security Policy, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center
Associate Director, Latin American Program, Wilson Center

Click to RSVP


Mexico Recasts Its Criminal Justice Process

5/31/16 Wall Street Journal

justice - gavel and bookACAPULCO, Mexico—On a recent day, hundreds of construction workers laid bricks in a fevered rush to finish a new courthouse in this violence-torn city. Their work was just part of Mexico’s broad and daunting effort to build a new criminal justice system.

Starting Wednesday, every criminal case in Acapulco will be heard using a new judicial process based on U.S.-style oral trials. It replaces a centuries-old inquisitorial system that effectively presumes defendants are guilty and hands down sentences on the basis of written evidence reviewed behind closed doors.

Within two weeks of its rollout here, the new system is supposed to operate across the entire country.

“This is the biggest change in Mexico’s judicial system in recent history—a cultural change without precedent,” said María de los Ángeles Fromow, the Interior Ministry official who has led the implementation of the new system across the country.

Supporters say the changes will create a more transparent and accountable system where defense lawyers and prosecutors confront each other in public before a judge or panel of judges.
Critics say parts of the country aren’t ready for the changes and criminals could avoid punishment in the short term, especially in places like this Pacific coastal city widely considered Mexico’s murder capital.

Read more… 

New Report on Judicial Reform by Justice in Mexico

justice in mexico logoBy David A. Shirk and Octavio Rodriguez Ferreira, Justice in Mexico

October 8, 2015

On October 8, 2015, Justice in Mexico launched a new report that provides a deep analysis of the current process of judicial reform in Mexico. The Criminal Procedure Reform in Mexico 2008-2016, by authors Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira and David A. Shirk, analyzes the process of implementing judicial reform in Mexico as well as the impacts of the reform on the federal and state level, as well as some of the past, present and future challenges to implementation efforts. Overall, the authors find that despite obstacles to the reform’s implementation, significant progress has been made and will continue in the years to come.

In 2008 the Mexican Congress approved an eight-year process to improve the criminal justice system, in a reform known as the New Criminal Justice System (Nuevo Sistema de Justicia Penal, NSJP). The NSJP will replace the traditional mixed inquisitorial justice system with a more efficient adversarial model. The new system will be operational throughout the country by June 18, 2016.

Read the report…

Upcoming Event! Advancing Justice Sector Reform in Mexico

justice - gavel and bookWHEN: Friday, June 26, 9:30-11:00am

WHERE: 5th Floor Conference Room, Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, DC

Click here to RSVP.

Mexico’s deadline to fully implement new, adversarial criminal trial procedures is less than one year away. The government of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has pushed strongly to comply with the constitutionally mandated shift to the new criminal justice system by June 18, 2015, particularly in light of the country’s ongoing security challenges. Together with the University of San Diego’s Justice in Mexico program, the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will host a panel discussion to examine current efforts to implement the new reforms. The discussion will include a presentation of recent survey data on the views of judges, prosecutors, attorneys, and police, as well as insights from a delegation of visiting law professors attorneys from Mexico’s National Autonomous University as part of the Oral Advocacy Skill-building Immersion Seminar (OASIS) funded by the Mérida Initiative. This program will be conducted in English and Spanish.


“Justice in Mexico: The Road Traveled and the Road Ahead”
David Shirk, Global Fellow, Mexico Institute; Professor, University of San Diego

“Progress Report: Judicial Reform Implementation in Mexico”
Octavio Rodriguez, Esq., Coordinator, Justice in Mexico, University of San Diego

“La preparación de la próxima generación de abogados en México”
Leoba Castañeda, Dean, Law School, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

“Algunos retos para el nuevo sistema penal”
Alberto Del Castillo Del Valle, Professor, Law School, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México


Daniel Schneider, Professor, School of International Service, American University

Click here to RSVP.

Experts Warn of Challenges to Mexico’s Judicial Reform Rollout

By Michael Lohmuller, InSight Crime, 3/30/2015

prisonTwo investigators recently sat down to discuss Mexico’s ongoing judicial reforms, highlighting several shortcomings related to juvenile detention and police procedures that threaten to undermine new policies set to be fully implemented next year.

Speaking at the Wilson Center on March 27, Elena Azaola — a Mexican psychoanalyst and anthropologist — discussed her recent work investigating juvenile delinquency and the institutions available to help support at-risk youth in Mexico. Azaola examined the obstacles facing adolescents, interviewing a total of 278 jailed youths (aged 18 and younger) in the states of Coahuila, Hidalgo, Morelos, and Sinaloa.

Read more…

Op Ed: “Aun en Pantalla” (In Spanish)

Reforma, 11/11/2013

By Denisse Dresser

81px-Presunto_culpableHace casi tres años, el documental Presunto culpable evidenció a un sistema judicial podrido. Expuso a jueces incompetentes. A policías abusivos. A testigos mentirosos. A funcionarios del Ministerio Público que acusan al azar porque “es su chamba”. La película plasmó todo lo que no funciona con la justicia en el país. Alertó, sacudió, evidenció y marcó el mapa de ruta de lo que tendría que hacerse para que no hubiera un inocente más en la cárcel. Para que Toño Zúñiga fuera la excepción y no la regla. Para que ni un sólo mexicano fuera aprehendido arbitrariamente, juzgado discrecionalmente, encarcelado injustamente.

Read more…

New Resources on the victims movement and judicial reform in Mexico

The Mexico Institute is pleased to share with you the following new resources on civic engagement and public security in Mexico.

The Victims’ Movement in Mexico-By Lauren Villagran

After a lengthy effort to combat organized crime in Mexico, the mental and emotional damage caused by violence has inflicted a heavy toll on the population. Increasingly, people who have been victims themselves have emerged as the most powerful advocates for their rights as victims, especially justice before the law. While many groups help deal with the pain of loss, the need exists for a more dedicated effort to help institutionalize judicial reforms. This paper seeks to examine the composition of victims groups, their organizational structure and internal divisions, and helps shed light on a number of facets of this social movement.

Click here to read the paper.

Civic Engagement and the Judicial Reform: The role of civil society in reforming criminal justice in Mexico-By Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira

Although civil society in Mexico has long been weak there have recently been encouraging signs of engagement and activism in response to the rule of law and security concerns. This report focuses on the role played by civil society in the judicial reform process, highlighting the efforts of organizations that have been influential and emblematic of civic activism in this area.

Click here to read the paper.