Justiciabarómetro Featured in Nexos

Image Source: Nexos.

Image Source: Nexos.

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 completes second OASIS study trip

07/24/2017 (edited by lcalderon) —From July 2nd to July 15th, six professors and six students from the UNAM Law School (Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) participated in the second 2017 OASIS study trip to the United States in order to learn about the U.S. criminal justice system as a part of the Oral-Adversarial Skill-building Immersion Seminar (OASIS). This program is

OASIS study trip 2 participants

UNAM Law School professors and students at the James R. Browning Courthouse

made possible by a grant from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. UNAM faculty and students had the opportunity to meet and learn from prominent public officials and legal experts in the Bay area community including University of California Berkeley Professors Melissa Murray and Andrea Roth, University of San Francisco Professor Connie de la Vega, representatives from the California Bar Association, Noel Belton and Veronica Ramirez from Probation Services, Rich Sarlatte from Pretrial Services, Prosecutor Andrew Scoble from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Public Defenders Geoff Hansen and Carmen Smarandoiu, Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler, Superior Court Judge Gerardo Sandoval and California Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar. The classes and meetings were designed and organized by two distinguished OASIS Regional Coordinators: Professor Charles Weisselberg from the University of California Berkeley and OASIS Training Coordinator and practicing criminal defense attorney Janice Deaton.

OASIS study trip participants had the opportunity to visit both federal and state courts in San Francisco, including the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. They were able to engage with federal judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys to gain insight from both sides of the courtroom. Aside from visits and discussions, participants were able to learn training skills to disseminate oral trial techniques. OASIS Training Coordinator and Instructor Janice Deaton led two “Train the Trainer” sessions on teaching oral trial skills. Mrs. Deaton guided the participants through the training, allowing participants to practice oral trial techniques and learn to provide effective critique and feedback.

Judges of Michoacán Affirm Their Commitment to Public Security

Marco Antonio Flores addressing the accusations made by Governor Silvano Aureoles. Source: Mi Morelia

Marco Antonio Flores addressing the accusations made by Governor Silvano Aureoles. Source: Mi Morelia

06/27/17 (written by Lucy Clement La Rosa)- On Monday, June 12th, Marco Antonio Flores Negrete, head of the Supreme Court of Justice in the state of Michoacán, delivered a public statement before Michoacán’s Supreme Court of Justice and various judicial officials promoting the objectives of Michoacán judicial authorities. The statement directly addressed accusatory comments of judicial negligence made by Michoacán governor, Silvano Aureoles Conejo, before the Ministry of Public Security’s (Secretarios de Seguridad Publica, SSP) National Conference on Wednesday, June 7th in Morelia, Michoacán.

At the conference, Aureoles asked judicial authorities to recognize their role in public security, strongly implying a lack of juridical vigor in the state of Michoacán. The Michoacán governor emphasized the ardent efforts of the state’s executive officials on behalf of public security. However, he argued that these efforts were in vain without the joint support of the judicial administration. Aureoles argued that executive and judicial officials were not acting with “the same velocity” against violence and organized crime in Michoacán. He pointed to judicial authorities citing insufficient evidence resulting in the release of an alleged Michoacán organized crime leader on June 7th. “This significantly discourages and disheartens the efforts made [by the SSP],” declared Aureoles (El Sol de Morelia).

In response, Supreme Court Justice Marco Flores publicly defended the judiciary and insisted that the actions of Michoacán judges and magistrates were in accordance with both federal and state legislation. He stated that Aureole’s accusations were “unfounded and unsupported” (Mi Morelia). Flores emphasized the role of the judiciary within the parameters of Mexico’s democracy, highlighting the importance of justice unhampered by political agendas. “At all times, we have respected the division of powers in the State, which is the basis of democracy that protects us from unilateral and authoritarian intentions (Mi Morelia).”

The Michoacán judiciary is fully in support of public security efforts against violence and crime, asserted Flores. However, he reminded his audience that all magistrates and judges must act within the parameters of Mexico’s constitutional rule of law. Indirectly touching upon the release of the alleged criminal mentioned by Aureoles, Flores added, “Hence, if you fail to prove, with legal, appropriate and sufficient evidence, the alleged criminal act attributed to a person…the judge is obligated to release him, because the Constitution expects and demands it.”

Aureoles’ divisive accusations elicited other responses as well. Javier Gil Oseguera, president of the Association of Judges (Asociación de Jueces de Primera Instancia), echoed Flores’ public sentiments. “Justice is given in strict adherence to the law, respecting the principles of equality (Quadratín).” Furthermore, Judge Ramón Sánchez Magaña, the judge with jurisdiction over the disputed release of the supposed criminal on June 7th, continued to endorse the decision to release the individual due to a lack of evidence.

Violence and Crime in Michoacán

The heightened tensions between executive and judicial officials on the topic of public security are set among increasing levels of violence and crime in Michoacán. As documented by the latest Justice in Mexico Drug Violence in Mexico (2017) report, Michoacán was the Mexican state with the third highest number of intentional homicides in 2016 with 1,287 homicides. This number was a significant increase from 2015 with 922 categorized as organized crime group (OCG) homicides.

Additionally, the Drug Violence in Mexico report highlights a pattern of violence in Mexico against two categories of special victims: public officials and journalists.  According to the report, Michoacán ranked as one of the deadliest states in Mexico for both public officials and journalists in 2016. This trend continued into 2017 with the abduction of Salvador Adame Pardo, a journalist from southern Michoacán. Adame has not been heard of since his abduction. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Adame had reached out to them with concerns for his safety.

Sources

Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2016.” Justice in Mexico. March 30, 2017.

Mexican journalist abducted in Michoacán state.” Committee to Protect Journalists. May 22, 2017.

Jueces deben dar la cara para que seguridad no sea “sólo por hoy.” El Sol de Morelia. June 7, 2017.

Exige respeto Supremo Tribunal de Justicia; ‘jueces dan la cara en audiencias públicas‘”: Flores.” El Sol de Morelia. June 12, 2017.

Poder judicial pide al ejecutivo se respete división de poderes y trabajo de los jueces.” Mi Morelia. June 12, 2017.

Se excedió, dicen jueces por declaración de Ejecutivo del Poder Judicial.” Quadratín. June 12, 2017.

UNAM Law School Participants Complete OASIS Study Trip at Harvard Law School

OASIS Boston participants next to a statue of John Harvard, one of the Founders of Harvard College

OASIS Boston participants next to a statue of John Harvard, one of the Founders of Harvard College

6/13/17 —From June 5 to June 16, six professors and six students from the UNAM Law School (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Facultad de Derecho) participated in the first of three 2017 study trips to the United States in order to learn about the U.S. criminal justice system as a part of the Oral-Adversarial Skill-building Immersion Seminar (OASIS). This program is made possible by a grant from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. With the assistance and direction of OASIS Regional Coordinator and Harvard professor Philip Heymann, UNAM faculty and students had the opportunity to meet and learn from prominent public officials and legal experts in the Boston community including Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, prosecutors John Capin and Jordi de Llano, defense attorney and Harvard professor Andrew Crespo, DOJ Assistant Deputy Bruce Ohr, Director of the Organized Crime division for the U.S. Attorney Generals Office Cynthia Young, Chief United States District Judge Patti Saris, defense attorney Rob Goldstein and federal prosecutor Fred M. Wyshak Jr.

Study trip participants had the opportunity to visit both federal and state courts in Boston. They were able to engage with federal judges and defense attorneys to gain insight from both sides of the courtroom. Aside from visits and discussions, participants were able to learn training skills to disseminate oral trial techniques. OASIS Instructor Peter Mitchell from the Legal Aid Society Criminal Defense Division in New York City led a “Train the Trainer” session on teaching oral trial skills. Mr. Mitchell guided the participants through the training, allowing participants to practice oral trial techniques and learn to provide effective critique and feedback.

Discussing Judicial Operators Perspectives in Mexico: Justiciabarómetro 2017 Presentation

05/11/17- Justice in Mexico will present findings from their 2017 Justiciabarómetro report which provides a comprehensive measure on the perspectives of judicial operators in Mexico on a variety of topics including judicial system effectiveness, compensation levels, and attitudes toward Mexico’s recent problems with crime and violence. Importantly, the study finds that there have been changes in judicial attitudes toward recent reform efforts, including a notable increase in favorability among judges toward the use of oral, adversarial trial procedures introduced in June 2008 and implemented nationwide over an eight-year period.

Discussing Changes in Adversarial Trial Procedures in Mexico

In the lead up to the June 18, 2016 deadline for the use of oral, adversarial trial procedures to be implemented nationwide, Justice in Mexico worked with the Mexican polling firm Data- Opinion y Mercados (Data OPM) to conduct the second Justiciabarómetro survey of more than 700 Mexican judges, prosecutors, and public defenders, building on a previous study conducted in 2010. The 2016 Justiciabarómetro study is the largest survey ever of Mexican judges and was administered in 12 states with varying levels of progress in implementing the reforms. Importantly, the results from the survey demonstrate important progress for the transition to the new criminal justice system.  While anecdotal data emphasizes judges and other judicial operators are largely opposed to the new adversarial system, the Justiciabarómetro survey findings dispel these claims as the judges and other judicial operators largely appear to be conscious and supportive of the benefits of reforms to Mexican criminal procedures.

The presentation of the report will be held at:

Sala de Usos Múltiples del Edificio del Poder Judicial del Estado de Baja California 
Mexicali, Baja California
17 de mayo, a partir de las 11 hrs.

Registration: www.pjbc.gob.mx/inscripciones


Speakers for this event include:

David Shirk, Director of Justice in Mexico, Associate Professor and Director of the M.A. program in Political Science and International Relations at the University of San Diego.

Octavio Rodríguez, Coordinator of Justice in Mexico

Judge Luciano Angulo Espinoza, State of Baja California

The Justiciabarómetro 2017 report is available in English and Spanish. The English version can be found here: DownloadThe Spanish version of the report can be found here: Download