10/22/11 – The Council (Consejo) overseeing the implementation of the New Criminal Justice System (Nuevo Sistema de Justicia Penal) in Michoacán recently took a number of steps in preparation for the transition. It appears that the Council is seeking ways to incorporate more voices and public interaction into the judicial system’s implementation through some of its actions this month.
In early October, it was reported that the Council decided to outsource the writing of the laws that will house the new judicial system. Instead of having the legislators or their advisors draft the legal language behind the reform, this work will be contracted to specialists in the field. As reported in Respuesta, three individual experts will write the laws that apply to the creation of the Public Defense Institute (Instituto de Defensoría Pública), the Institute of Expert Services (Institute of Services Periciales), and the Penal Code (Código Penal), while a consulting firm will work on the Law of Alternative Justice (Ley de Justicia Alternativa). Overall, the state is expecting to save money by outsourcing the work.
Also in October, the Council made an announcement that it will publish a yearly document that compiles academic journals and essays written on the new criminal justice system. The Council hopes that the annual publication becomes “a medium that gives voice to the academics and specialists to analyze the constitutional criminal reform of 2008, particularly with how it relates to Michoacán.” Submissions of journals and essays are being accepted up until November 7, and are open to teachers, researchers, students, lawyers, operators, administrators, organizations, and the general public.
Finally, on October 11 and 12, the Council, under the lead of its president, Alejandro González Gómez, held the Forum for Analysis, Strengthening, and Opportunities in the Code of Criminal Proceedings in the State of Michoacán (Foro de Análisis, Fortalezas, y Oportunidades del Código de Procedimientos Penales del Estado de Michoacán.) The focus was on developing oral trials under the new system, which is a critical component of the transformation, while the importance of “citizen participation and principally that of lawyers and academics… to enrich the new criminal laws in the state” was emphasized. Given that the new judicial system is intended to be more transparent and accessible, steps like these from the beginning may be a good sign for the Council and the state in general.