In late August 2014, Justice in Mexico project researchers Octavio Rodriguez and David Shirk visited Mexico City to gather information for a forthcoming report on efforts to implement sweeping changes to the country’s judicial system. This trip culminated several months of data gathering and monitoring media reports on Mexico’s transition from its traditional mixed-inquisitorial model to a new oral, adversarial criminal justice system. Rodriguez and Shirk meet with U.S. and Mexican government officials, as well as non-governmental judicial reform advocates and human rights activists.
Mexico is rapidly approaching the constitutionally mandated June 2016 deadline for full implementation of judicial sector reforms at the federal and state level. Conversations with officials and experts in the field suggested there has been some progress over the last several months, including the creation of a new national code of criminal procedure that will be binding for all states and the full or partial adoption of the adversarial system in several states. Still, there are concerns that too many states and even the federal government have not made sufficient progress on implementation when it comes to training judicial system operatives, adopting new technologies, constructing new courtrooms, and other fine points of the reform.
Many aspects of the reform are documented in previous Justice in Mexico studies, including a 2010 report titled Judicial Reform in Mexico, a 2011 Justiciabarómetro survey of judicial attitudes, and a 2012 edited volume titled La reforma de la justicia en México. The forthcoming special report, nominally titled Courting Justice: Implementing Judicial Reform in Mexico, will draw on new information and analysis to provide a timely and much needed update on the status of the transition. The authors will also examine the challenges and policy options for Mexican and U.S. officials working to advance judicial reform.