Justiciabarómetro Featured in Nexos

Image Source: Nexos.

Image Source: Nexos.

10/10/17- (written by Lucy Clement La Rosa) In October of this year, Nexos, a political magazine based in Mexico City, featured an article co-authored by Justice in Mexico Director and Program Coordinator, David Shirk and Octavio Rodríguez, that examines rule of law and judicial reform in Mexico. The article, titled “El Justiciabarómetro Mexicano” (The Mexican Justice Barometer), highlights the Justice in Mexico’s Justiciabarómetro project, a quantitative research initiative to gauge the current levels of comprehensive judicial reform and the professional attitudes of judicial operators throughout the Mexican criminal justice system, including police, public defenders and judges.

The article introduces the background of the Justiciabarómetro project, which began in 2009 and was first published as research study in 2010. The project was initiated at a critical moment in Mexico’s democratic development in order to provide much needed analysis of judicial operators and judicial reform in Mexico. Just one year before, Mexico’s ruling president Enrique Peña Nieto had launched an ambitious judicial reform, aimed at improving the transparency of the criminal justice system. Under the agenda of New Criminal Justice System (Nuevo Sistema de Justicia Penal, NSJP), the reforms targeted various operators across multiple judicial sectors, including police officers, prosecutors, public defenders, the Ministry of the Public, the courts, and the prison system. The reforms introduced new judicial procedures and standards with the intent of promoting greater access to justice (for defendants and victims alike) and improving the efficiency of judicial operators.

The 2008 reforms were implemented following a general outcry over the dysfunctionality of Mexico’s justice system, which was fraught with impunity, corruption, legal misconduct and a general lack of access to justice for defendants and victims. In fact, Mexico’s society was so disenfranchised by the rate of impunity and level of uninvestigated crimes that often crimes went unreported. Moreover, crimes that were reported were often protracted by trial delays, a reliance on eye witness testimony and general negligence.

The first Justiciabarómetro published in 2010 was a survey of judicial operators across nine Mexican states with a response rate of 24%. The survey, composed of over 120 questions, focused on the demographic and professional profiles of judicial operators as well as their personal perspectives on various topics; including: the effectiveness of the judicial sector, the implementation of the new judicial sector and the attitude towards persistent problems of corruption, organized crime and violence.  The study generated useful indicators as the early development of Mexico’s judicial reform, useful not only for academic purposes, but also for public policy initiatives.

The Nexos article specifically highlights the most recent 2016 Justiciabarómetro publication, which covered 11 Mexican states with a response rate of 56%. In comparison to the baseline of the first Justiciabarómetro study, the 2016 study discovered several positive changes in the attitudes of the surveyed judicial operators towards judicial reform. For example, about 80% of the survey participants believe that the NSJP will reduce institutional corruption and about 95% of judicial operators prefer the new oral, adversarial trial procedures over the antiquated, written procedures. The 2016 study also identifies several persisting challenges within Mexico’s judicial system that beg to be address for the sake of the success and continuity of the judicial reform process.

Overall, the Nexos article underscores the objectives and important findings of the latest Justiciabarómetro study with relation to Mexico’s judicial reform and judicial operators. The objective of Justice in Mexico’s ongoing Justiciabarómetro project is not only to fill the gap in the literature related to judicial operators, but also to provide routine evaluation of the Mexican judicial system. In this manner, the Justiciabarómetro can identify progressive development and remaining challenges within Mexico’s comprehensive judicial reform and judicial personnel. It is the overarching goal of our organization to accentuate the positive impact of the relatively new oral, adversarial system in Mexico’s rule of law and subsequently reinforce the continuous development of Mexico’s judicial system.

 

Please see below for a link to the Nexos feature (Spanish); there is also a separate link to the translated Nexos article (English).

Nexos (Spanish): Nexos Feature

Translation (English): Nexos Translation

 

 

 

Justice in Mexico in Solidarity with Earthquake Victims

Steve Breen, San Diego Union Tribune

Steve Breen, San Diego Union Tribune

9/21/17- (written by Lucy Clement La Rosa) On Tuesday, September 19th, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck southern Mexico once again, about 90 miles outside of Mexico City. Currently, at least 237 people are dead and almost 2,000 people are wounded. Tuesday’s earthquake follows a magnitude 8.1 earthquake on September 7th in Oaxaca, Mexico that killed nearly 100 people. The most recent seismic event is Mexico’s deadliest earthquake since 1985.

The earthquake caused significant structural damage, destroying over 50 buildings in Mexico City alone. These buildings included schools and apartment buildings, which significantly contributed to the number of victims. Since Tuesday afternoon, rescue workers and volunteers have dedicated significant resources to locating individuals trapped under debris. Several Latin American countries, such as Panama and El Salvador, as well as the United States, Spain, Japan and Israel have dedicated man-power or technical assistance to these relief efforts.

Justice in Mexico stands in solidarity with the victims, colleagues, friends and families, affected by the earthquake. Justice in Mexico extends our sincerest gratitude and respect to the rescue workers who have responded to the crisis. We encourage you to look into any of the subsequently named charities who have launched donation funds for Mexico’s recovery; including U.S. charities, such as the International Community Foundation (ICF), Catholic Relief Services (CRS)  Project Paz and local Mexican organizations, such as, OxFam Mexico and Topos. Another notable donation opportunity was established by the Mexican Red Cross, by means of an Amazon Wish List for items essential to the organization’s relief efforts.  These links will also be displayed below.

In times of unprecedented tragedy, Justice in Mexico is heartened to see the good will and compassion behind the country’s convalescence. In the words of President Enrique Peña Nieto, “If anything distinguishes Mexicans, it is our generosity and fraternity” (Reuters).

Relief Funds

International Community Foundation. Click here to donate

Catholic Relief Services. Click here to donate

Project Paz. Click here to donate

Oxfam Mexico. Click here to donate

Topos. Click here to donate

Cruz Roja Mexicana. Click here to donate

*For general information please call CIAM 24/7 Call center: 1-855-4636-395 (24 hours)

Sources

Breen, Steve. Untitled. San Diego Union Tribune. September 20, 2017.

Trotta, Daniel and Adriana Barrera. “Mexico races to save 12-year-old girl as quake toll hits 237.” Reuters. September 21, 2017.

OASIS International Symposium Cancelled due to Earthquake

9/08/17- (written by Lucy Clement La Rosa) Following an 8.2 magnitude earthquake in southern Mexico, Justice in Mexico has cancelled the remainder of their international symposium until further notice. The symposium event is co-hosted by Justice in Mexico’s Oral Adversarial Skill-building Immersion Seminar (OASIS) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico School of Law (Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, UNAM) in Mexico City.

The earthquake, which occurred late Thursday night, was the strongest earthquake to hit Mexico in the last century. The earthquake struck in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, approximately 75 miles southwest of the town, Tres Picos. At least 26 people have died across Mexico and a tsunami warning is in effect for the southern coasts of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, and Ecuador. In order to inspect for structural damage, President Enrique Peña Nieto closed schools in both Chiapas and Mexico City.

 

Sources

Graham, Chris, et al. “Mexico hit by ‘strongest earthquake in a century’ as magnitude 8.2 tremor triggers tsunami waves.” The Telegraph. September 8, 2017.

Justice in Mexico Celebrates 15th Anniversary

8/23/17- (written by Lucy Clement La Rosa) On August 11th, Justice in Mexico commemorated 15 years of promoting bilateral cooperation between Mexico and the United States, specifically related to rule of law challenges in Mexico. The significant milestone was celebrated with a daytime seminar of several panel discussions at the University of San Diego, followed by an evening reception and award dinner.

The seminar, Justice in Mexico: An Agenda for the Future, was attended by various professional and academic individuals involved in U.S.- Mexico bilateral relations, including the UNAM Law School (Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) participants of Justice in Mexico’s third 2017 OASIS study trip. Several distinguished guests from Mexico attended the discussion sessions, including: Minister Amando Vázquez, Magistrate Alejandro Gonzalez, Magistrate Luciano Angulo, and Dr. Maria Candelaria Pelayo.

Justice in Mexico commemorated their 15th anniversary with a seminar of several panel discussions focused on rule of law challenges in Mexico.

Justice in Mexico commemorated their 15th anniversary with a seminar of several panel discussions focused on rule of law challenges in Mexico.

The panel contributors included: Dr. David Shirk, Dr. Wayne Cornelius, Dr. Max Langer, Dr. Hugo Concha, Mag. Gonzalez, Dr. Pelayo, Dr. Octavio Rodríguez, Lic. Alex Ríos, Dra. Layda Negrete, Mstra. Janice Deaton, Mstro. David Fernández, and Mstra. Susana Peña. The speakers discussed a variety of topics related to the Justice in Mexico agenda, including: the accomplishments and challenges of Justice in Mexico and the initiatives needed to strengthen judicial reforms, combat corruption, and improve legal education in Mexico.

In particular, Dr. Cornelius spoke at length of Justice in Mexico’s achievement in creating the Justiciabarómetro, a database focused on gauging the level of criminal justice reform and the perspectives of judicial officials within Mexico. Although Dr. Cornelius acknowledged that serious challenges remain in Mexico, he pointed out that the Justiciabarómetro 2016 dataset indicates an encouraging increase of favorability for the recent criminal justice reforms. Mexican magistrate of Michoacán state, Alejandro González Gómez, expounded on the remaining challenges, such as the lack of training for judges, magistrates, etc. and the low salary of Mexico’s police officers. Additionally, Maestro David Fernández Mena emphasized the important role of Mexican education institutions in strengthening criminal justice reform.

Following the seminar sessions, the participants were invited to an evening reception, followed by an award dinner. The following individuals were honored for their efforts in promoting democracy and rule of law in Mexico: Edna Jaime (founder and Director General of México Evalúa), José Ramón Cossío Díaz (Minister of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation and professor at the Mexico Autonomous Institute of Technology, ITAM), Dr. Miguel Basáñez Ebergenyi (ex-Mexican ambassador to the United States and professor at Tufts University), Dr. Denise Dresser (political analyst and professor at ITAM), and Dr. Cornelius (expert on immigration and Mexican politics).

The awarded individuals, sans Dr. Dresser who was unable to attend, led an informative dialogue moderated by Dr. Shirk. The discussion focused on Mexico’s recent establishment of an oral, adversarial criminal justice system and the dual role of judicial operators and legal education in ensuring positive progress. Namely, the panelists discussed the strategies and resources necessary to ensure the success of this judicial transition, as well as expounding on Justice in Mexico’s impact in providing trainings and workshops for judicial operatives.

Justice in Mexico extends the sincerest gratitude to their sponsors and donors for their contributions and support in making the anniversary event possible. The commemoration of Justice in Mexico’s accomplishments and the informative contribution of each individual who dedicated their time to the event inspire Justice in Mexico to continue strengthening and improving rule of law in Mexico.

Justice in Mexico completes third OASIS study trip

08/23/17- (written by Lucy Clement La Rosa) From July 31st to August 11th, faculty and student delegates from the UNAM Law School (Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) completed the third 2017 study trip to the United States under Justice in Mexico’s Oral-Adversarial Skill-Building Immersion Seminar (OASIS) program. The two-week study trip introduced the UNAM participants to U.S. public officials and legal experts in the greater San Diego area and encouraged academic discussion of the U.S. criminal justice system.

Study trip participants outside the San Diego courthouse.

Study trip participants outside the San Diego courthouse.

The OASIS study trip funded through the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs offered UNAM professors and students the opportunity to attend seminars and workshops led by prominent individuals including the Honorable Runston Maino, the Honorable Dave Danielsen, Judge Chris Whitten, Judge Luciano Angulo, Monique Carter, Moises Santos, Daniele Novoa, Andrew Haden, Ansar Haroun, Carlos Varela, Luis Guerrero, and Lisa Rodriguez. The workshops were organized by OASIS study trip coordinator and University of San Diego (USD) professor, Allen Synder, and OASIS Training Coordinator and practicing criminal defense attorney, Janice Deaton.

While the majority of the workshops were held within the USD Law School, the UNAM participants also visited San Diego’s Federal Court building, State Court building, the Office of the Public Defender, and the Hall of Justice. The seminars provided the participants direct interaction with U.S. federal and state officials, who shared relevant knowledge and personal experiences in the criminal justice sector. The workshops covered a variety of criminal justice topics including, but not limited to, the rights of a defendant, interpretation services within federal and state courts, the defense and prosecution perspective of an oral trial, the role of psychiatrists in the criminal system, and the logistics of plea bargaining. The meetings and workshops contributed to the overall objectives of the OASIS program: providing resources and training, such as oral litigation techniques, that will encourage judicial transparency and reform under the new criminal justice system in Mexico.

The last day of the study trip on August 11th consisted of a special session dedicated to the future of the Justice in Mexico program. The session promoted a dialogue of prospective challenges for the Justice in Mexico and panel discussions related to judicial reform efforts, including greater transparency and legal education, in Mexico. Finally, the day was concluded with a reception and dinner celebrating the Justice in Mexico’s 15th anniversary.