Updates on the NSJP from Around the States

05/13/19 (written by kheinle) — It has been almost three years since the formal launch of Mexico’s New Criminal Justice System (Nuevo Sistema de Justicia Penal, NSJP), which former President Enrique Peña Nieto ushered in on June 18, 2016. Despite significant progress made nationwide in advancing the judicial system, critics continue to voice their frustration over the system’s weaknesses. Several updates on the successes and challenges around the states are provided below.

 

Coahuila

Source: Justice in Mexico.

The Governor of Coahuila, Miguel Riquelme, has been helping to lead the charge to broaden what crimes are dealt with through corporal punishment under the NSJP. The push would include crimes of car theft, drug dealing, and acts of aggression towards security forces. These issues were part of the discussion at the National Conference of Governors (Conferencia Nacional de Gobernadores, CONAGO) held on April 30, 2019 in Mexico City.

Governor Riquelme’s frustrations stem from the allegation that criminals are able to find loopholes or cracks (rendijas legales) in the system that allow them to evade prosecution. He is advocating to see tougher punishments laid down and sentences given. Writes El Diario de Coahuila, Governor Riquelme “cautioned that [criminals] have already figured out how to evade prosecution in the new justice system, and therefore reform is being sought.” He continued, saying that the reform “would guarantee that criminals are punished and with bigger sentences, such as in the case of small-scale drug sales.”

This belief is counter, however, to the objective of the NSJP. The judicial reforms were not intended to simply make laws harsher and act as a deterrent, but rather to bring swifter, more efficient and transparent justice. Although Governor Riquelme also had the backing of some of his fellow governors at CONAGO, the overall satisfaction of those operating the NSJP have remained very high. A Justice in Mexico Justiciabarómetro report from 2016 found that 89% of those surveyed (including judges, prosecutors, and public defenders) thought the old judicial system needed to be formed and that the new system had had positive effects since being implemented in 2008. Additionally, roughly 90% of those surveyed thought the NSJP instilled greater confidence in authorities, and another 93% believed the new system expedited judicial processes. Thus, despite criticisms like that leveled by Governor Riquelme, which ought to be taken into consideration, the response to the NSJP has been largely positive.

 

Jalisco

Source: Justice in Mexico.

The head of Jalisco’s Security Cabinet (Gabinete de Seguridad de Jalisco), Macedonio Tamez, expressed his concern with the NSJP, arguing that the new system overly protects accused criminals. This has resulted, he alleges, in less criminals incarcerated because the judicial process through which prosecutors must go to get them there is cumbersome and inoperable. “The twisted new system makes it difficult to bring justice to many of the accused,” he said. “I would point out, for example, the amount of declarations made by Police that detention judges deem illegal simply because they don’t comply with a series of requirements that, to me, are excessive.”

Those requirements, however, are specifically designed to force police and prosecutors to improve the quality of criminal investigations, writes David Shirk and Octavio Rodriguez, Justice in Mexico’s Director and Program Coordinator, respectively, in an op-ed article from 2017. A strong legal defense for the accused helps limit the punitive discretion of both parties, they argue.

 

Michoacán

Source: Justice in Mexico.

On April 26, a workshop was in launched in Uruapan, Michoacán for lawyers of indigenous decent. Topics included how to work through the penal process, the accusatorial system, and overall preparation for oral trials. The 20-hour course spanned two weekends and was made available free of charge for up to 40 individuals. The series was facilitated in collaboration with the State Commission for the Development of Indigenous People (Comisión Estatal para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas, CEDPI), the State Government of Michoacán (Gobierno del Estado), and the head of the Supreme Court of Justice (Supremo Tribunal de Justicia).

 

San Luis Potosí

Source: Justice in Mexico.

The San Luis Potosí State Judiciary (Poder Judicial del Estado) facilitated a “First Responders” course in early May for members of Civil Protection (Protección Civil), Fire Fighters (Bombers Metropolitanos), and the Red Cross (Cruz Roja). This was part of the State’s effort to prepare first responders to act accordingly within the protocols established by the NSJP when responding to a scene. It included training on evidence, witness testimonies, and tending to crime scenes. Judge José Luis Ortiz Bravo explained that having trained first responders is critical because they play an important role in crime scenes and serving as witnesses.

This came on the heels of a series of similar trainings held by Federico Garza Herrera, San Luis Potosí’s State Attorney General (Fiscal General del Estado de San Luis Potosí, FGESLP), in February 2019. Those workshops were specifically held to train all municipal police as first responders to scenes. Garza Herrera acknowledged the importance of having municipal police trained in the processes and procedures of the NSJP, so that they can correctly parlay evidence and information to the judge, as needed. He referred to them as the “foundation” of the New Criminal Justice System.

 

Sources:

Cortés, Nancy et al. “Perspectivas del sistema de justicia penal en México: ¿Qué piensan sus operadores?” Justice in Mexico. November 2016.

Rodríguez Ferreira, Octavio and David A. Shirk. “Commentary: Mexico’s badly needed justice reforms in peril.” San Diego Union Tribune. August 11, 2017.

Rodríguez Ferreira, Octavio and David A. Shirk. “El Justiciabarómetro mexicano.” Nexos. October 1, 2017.

“Anuncia fiscal capacitación permanente para la policía municipal y jueces auxiliares.” Pulso. February 18, 2019.

“Inicia taller sobre Nuevo Sistema de Justicia Penal, dirigido a abogados de origen indígena.” Informa Oriente. April 26, 2019.

Rojas Ávila, Beatriz. “Abogados indígenas se capacitarán en materia de justicia penal oral.” Ner. April 26, 2019.

“Capacitan a rescatistas en nuevo sistema de justicia penal.” Plano Informativo. May 9, 2019.

Escamilla, José Luis. “Lamentan que Nuevo Sistema de Justicia Penal dificulte que delincuentes pisen la cárcel.” Notisistema. May 11, 2019.

“Se impulse reforma a Legislación Penal.” El Diario de Coahuila. May 11, 2019.

Webpage. “Declaratorio de la LVI Reunión Ordinaria de la Conferencia Nacional de Gobernadores.” Conferencia Nacional de Gobernadores. Last accessed May 12, 2019.

Justice in Mexico Director Dr. David A. Shirk presents the winners of the Justiciabarómetro Infographic and Essay Contest

Participants of the Justiciabarometro Infographic and Essay Contest

Participants of the Justiciabarómetro Infographic and Essay Contest

12/07/17 (written by Ashley Ahrens-Víquez)- On December 5, 2017, Justice in Mexico Director Dr. David A. Shirk presented the winners of the Justiciabarómetro Infographic and Essay Contest to students at the Autonomous University of Baja California (Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, UABC).

The contest was conducted by Justice in Mexico in  collaboration with UABC professor, Zulia Orozco. Dr. Shirk presented the findings of the 2016 Justiciabarómetro to the students in October 2017, giving them two months to prepare their submissions.

Justice in Mexico organized the contest to encourage students to analyze the report and to generate a submission based on the information that interested them the most. It provided the students with an opportunity to utilize practical methodological skills such as data analysis and graphic generation.

The students had the option to submit either an infographic or essay. The infographics were judged based on the clarity of the message, an innovative interpretation and visual impact. A prize winning essay had to analyze the Justiciabarómetro data in a sophisticated manner, drawing some conclusion based on the research. There were more than 100 submissions to the contest. Students’ submissions were notably centered on data pertaining to gender, corruption and crime.

The two winners of the infographic contest are Edna Adriana Palomera Hernández and Yatziri Jannette Lugo Félix. Runners up include Dalia Arreola Carabao, Tania Abigail Suárez Arvizu, Karen Estefani Reyes Olivera, Carmen Saray Hernández Ortíz.
The winner of the essay contest is Itzel Rivera Villanueva. Second place was awarded to Esmeralda Hernández Cervantes and the third place winner is Jessica Guadalupe Cobian Cortez.

The winning infographics can be found below. To view all of the submissions, visit our Facebook page (here).

Edna Adriana Palomera Hernández

Edna Adriana Palomera Hernández

Yatziri Janette Lugo Félix

Yatziri Janette Lugo Félix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Justice in Mexico and UNAM School of Law co-host second International Symposium on Oral Adversarial Justice Systems in Mexico City

Keynote speaker Supreme Court Justice José Ramón Cossīo Díaz with UNAM Faculty

Keynote speaker Supreme Court Justice José Ramón Cossīo Díaz with UNAM Faculty

09/20/16 (written by kheinle) – On September 8-9, Justice in Mexico’s Oral Adversarial Skill-building Immersion Seminar (OASIS) co-hosted the International Symposium on Oral Adversarial Justice Systems with the National Autonomous University of Mexico School of Law (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, UNAM) in Mexico City. Over 500 students, faculty, and community members and officials attended to learn about the successes, challenges, and next steps for Mexico’s comprehensive justice reform.

The symposium concluded OASIS’s second yearlong training and education program. Throughout the 2015-2016 academic year, OASIS sponsored three 40-hour courses in oral adversarial litigation skills at the UNAM School of Law as well as visits to various cities in the United States, including Boston, San Diego, and San Francisco, where UNAM School of Law professors and students observed how the U.S. justice system operates. Hosted at the UNAM School of Law, the symposium convened a diverse group of judicial system operators, a Supreme Court judge, prosecutors, government officials, academics, and civil society representatives. It came just a few months after the June 18, 2016 constitutional deadline for full judicial system implementation, closing an eight-year period during which Mexico’s 32 states were obligated to implement and begin operating the New Criminal Justice System (Nuevo Sistema de Justicia Penal, NSJP).

Master of Ceremonies Christopher Arpaur Pastrana Cortés

International symposium Master of Ceremonies Christopher Arpaur Pastrana Cortés

The symposium began with introductory comments from Dr. David Shirk, director of Justice in Mexico; Dr. Stephen Ferruolo, dean of the University of San Diego’s (USD) School of Law; Dr. Alfonso del Valle, coordinator for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) Rule of Law program; Dr. María de los Ángeles Fromow, Director of the Council for the Implementation of the Criminal Justice System’s Technical Secretariat (Secretaría Técnica del Consejo de Coordinación para la Implementación del Sistema de Justicia, SETEC), and Dr. Raúl Contreras Bustamante, dean of UNAM’s School of Law. Among other welcoming remarks, the speakers emphasized the important role that institutions like USD and UNAM have had in contributing to NSJP reform’s successes and remaining challenges moving forward.

The symposium’s first panel, “Human Rights and Civil Rights in Mexico and the United States,” was moderated by OASIS Training Course Director Janice Deaton. Dr. Luis de la Barreda Solózano of UNAM opened with a discussion on human rights in the Mexican legal system, detailing several major moments in Mexico: the 1990 creation of Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, CNDH); the 2011 constitutional reform that prioritizes the protection of human rights when the situation weighs constitutional versus international treaties; the importance of the Supreme Court’s (Suprema Corte Nacional de Justicia, SCNJ) ruling that adheres Mexico to Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) resolutions; and a critique of the country’s use of arraigo. Former CNDH president, Dr. Mireille Roccatti, furthered the conversation on the CNDH and the 2011 constitutional reform in her broader discussion on mechanisms through which to defend human rights in the legal framework. She also discussed the role of amparo in the legal system—an injunction that protects individual’s rights from inappropriate acts or failure to act by authorities.

Assistant Attorney General Anthony Da Silva of the California Department of Justice then spoke on the successful integration of human rights protections into the U.S. legal system, specifically looking at international versus national law surrounding human rights, and the constitutional rights of the defendant. He outlined an array of legal rights that individuals have as part of their right to due process, including the right to a public trial, attorney, impartial jury, and presumption of innocence. USD professor Andrew Tirrell concluded the panel looking instead at the lack of human rights integration in the U.S. justice system and the continued challenges that persist. He focused on racial discrimination, capital punishment, and the role of mental capacity or incapacity among defendants in their proceedings, tying together how all three undermine the protection of human rights in the United States.

UNAM law professor and attorney Guillermo Alcantár moderated the second panel of the day, “Civic Initiatives for the New Criminal Justice System in Mexico.” Panelist Susana Catalina Peña Parás, administrative coordinator for the Center for Studies on the Teachings and Learning of Law, A.C. (Centro de Estudios sobre la Enseñanza y el Aprendizaje del Derecho, A.C., CEEAD), highlighted the important role universities have played and will continue to play in the judicial system reform. She spoke on the six ways that her organization, CEEAD, supports universities in this process, including advising universities on curriculum updates, creating educational material, training professors, developing a diagnostic test or evaluation to measure students’ understanding of the adversarial system, monitoring implementation, and exchanging best practices. Dr. David Fernández Mena, director for the American Bar Association-Rule of Law Initiative’s (ABA-ROLI) Mexico Program, followed with his presentation on his institution’s role at universities and within civil society organizations. He argued that universities have a profound role in the reform, both in ensuring that students are ready and trained to operate within the system and that professors are equipped to sufficiently teach their students on the new system. The panel concluded with Layda Negrete of México Evalúa, who spoke on civic initiatives related to the criminal system through a statistical lens. Negrete discussed how México Evalúa measures the results of the new system’s implementation taking into account seven indicators: public confidence, homicide levels, reporting of crimes, quality of treatment for victims, presumption of innocence, fair criminal procedures, and quality of prison conditions.

The symposium’s second day began with a panel discussion, moderated by UNAM law professor Trilce Ovilla Bueno, dedicated to critical perspectives of the new accusatorial system. USD School of Law Dean Stephen Ferruolo shared critiques of the United States accusatorial system and how the U.S. is addressing these issues, thus providing a comparative study. He cautioned that many in the United States do not fully understand the judiciary’s role in the democratic system, and how that undermines a successful rule of law. He also called attention to the role of universities in training lawyers first and foremost to respect the law and justice in their work. UNAM law professor Dr. Raúl Carranca y Rivas followed with his presentation on the important role that language plays in the legal process. Dr. Carranca y Rivas advocated that law students must know, master, and respect legal speech, particularly in the NSJP that is built on oral trials. “Speaking well is an art,” he said. UNAM law professor Dr. Víctor Manuel Garay Garzón followed with a discussion on challenges faced in the NSJP.  Specifically, he discussed the lack of formal or adequate marketing and promotion of the system prior to its implementation. For example, Dr. Garay Garzón spoke on the importance of preparing a civil society for a drastic change, like that of a new judicial system, before training of legal actors and operators began.

Judge Belem Bolanos Martínez continued the panel with her presentation on Mexico’s National Code of Penal Procedures (Código Nacional de Procedimiento Penal, CNPP) and the challenges that existed under the old criminal justice system versus those under the new. She summarized that greater communication among judicial system operators and continued training in general is needed to operate within the new system, as decisions made in the courtroom may be immediate, thus requiring the judge to have a deeper understanding of the case and evidence presented. Rommel Moreno Manjarréz of the Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) concluded the panel with a look at the importance of creating a civil society that supports the NSJP. He noted the critical role academia plays in the system’s reform, as well as the necessity of growing a civil society that respects the new system while also continuing to question and critique.

Dr. Viridiana Rios moderates symposium panel.

Dr. Viridiana Rios moderates symposium panel “The NSJP in Action”.

Dr. Viridiana Ríos, a research fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, moderated the day’s second panel, “The NSJP in Action.” Justice in Mexico Director Dr. David Shirk led off with an overview of Justice in Mexico’s work and its upcoming publication to be released in fall 2016 as part of its Justiciabarómetro initiative. The report will feature first-of-its-kind data, which Dr. Shirk shared, on judges’, prosecutors’, and defense attorneys’ perceptions of the new judicial system compared to their opinions from 2010. Professor Karol Derwich of Jagiellonian University’s Center of Latin American Studies then presented on the juxtaposition between Mexico being arguably a dysfunctional state while simultaneously introducing the new accusatorial model of justice, a significant step forward in its continued efforts to consolidate democratic efforts. Although only seven of 100 crimes are reported in Mexico, Derwich noted, the NSJP can support Mexico in advancing beyond a dysfunctional status.

The panel moved into a presentation by María Novoa of the Center for Investigation and Development, A.C. (Centro de Investigación para el Desarrollo, A.C., CIDAC), who spoke on the necessity of unifying the new criminal code (CNPP) to enhance the system’s acceptance, implementation, and evaluation. Novoa pointed to systemic and institutional challenges in Mexico that threaten the new adversarial system’s success, including the lack of uniformity within the system; subpar institutional coordination; the need for quality scientific research and investigation protocols at crime scenes; and the underuse of alternative methods for conflict resolution, among others. Professor Zulia Orozco of the Autonomous University of Baja California (Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, UABC) concluded the panel with her analysis of the crucial role police play in the NSJP. She called attention to areas in which state and local police departments are lacking, such as institutionalizing training on matters of age, disability, and gender, and how the NSJP seeks to strengthen police departments and the institution as a whole.

Keynote speaker, Mexican Supreme Court Justice José Ramón Cossío Díaz, concluded the symposium with a diagnosis of the NSJP. The reality, he argued, is that there were many years during the implementation stage that could have been more properly used for preparing the country for the radical judicial system changes. Justice Cossío spoke specifically to four challenges he sees within the new system: inadequate training of judicial system operators and law students; poor information sharing between judicial system actors, academia, government, and civil society; the undermining of human rights at the federal level (e.g., Ayotzinapa); and the inharmonious use of amparo and oral trials. Justice Cossío concluded, “We are poorly prepared for oral trials… We need to identify the challenges and weak spots [of the NSJP], dialogue and create solutions, and modify the reform to make it better.”

The second OASIS symposium was a great success, drawing together a variety of diverse stakeholders and key government officials, members of academia, and civil society representatives. It was a productive event capping off another successful year for OASIS. Justice in Mexico would like to thank the symposium’s panelists and moderators, and UNAM’s School of Law faculty for their dedicated collaboration and commitment to justice reform in Mexico.

New Criminal Justice System implementation pushes forward as constitutional deadline looms

Map of NSJP advancement in Mexico

Source: Daniel Rey, Excélsior.

03/10/16 (written by kheinle) – With the June 18, 2016 constitutional deadline for nationwide implementation of the New Criminal Justice System (Nuevo Sistema de Justicia Penal, NSJP) quickly approaching, Mexican judiciaries are pressing to meet their obligations. On March 1, the Mexican government announced the NSJP’s launch in nine new states, bringing the total number of Mexican entities in operation of the new system to 24 of 32. According to Mexico’s Secretary of the Interior Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, this constitutes 85 million Mexicans reached under the new system or 70% of the country’s population. The nine newest entities are Aguascalientes, Colima, Hidalgo, Mexico City, Morelos, Nuevo León, Quintana Roo, the State of Mexico (Estado de México, Edomex), and Tabasco. The eight states that have yet to launch are scheduled to do so in April and June of this year.

The Mexican government praised the new judicial system while announcing the NSJP’s launch. “The most important part is what’s happening behind what we’re celebrating,” said Secretary Chong, “which is when faced with a crime, the prosecution and justice system acts faster, more transparently, and more impartially each time.” The director of the Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR), Arely Gómez González, also commented on the opportunity the new criminal justice system brings to “closing the gaps of opacity” that characterized the outgoing traditional justice system, which, she continued, allowed for corruption and impunity to grow.

(From L to R) Secretary of the interior Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, Supreme Court President Luis María Aguilar, and Head of the Attorney General's Office Arely Gómez González. Source: Excélsior.

(From L to R) Secretary of the interior Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, Supreme Court President Luis María Aguilar, and Head of the Attorney General’s Office Arely Gómez González. Source: Excélsior.

Still, Gómez recognized the challenges faced with the system’s overhaul, specifically that of ensuring the public’s confidence in the judiciary and in the institutions responsible for its operations and effectiveness. “It’s not enough to [point to] the improved norms, personal trainings, and systems of information [within the NSJP] if these do not restore the citizens’ confidence in their institutions nor translate into improved daily life,” Gómez shared. Several weeks prior to her statement, Rommel Moreno, the head of the PGR’s Unit for the Implementation of the Accusatorial Criminal System (Unidad para la Implementación del Sistema Penal Acusatorio de la PGR), offered his comments on the changing system, also highlighting the public’s confidence. “The traditional [justice] system is collapsing. This does not mean it’s bad; this does not mean it’s good; it’s just collapsing. And why is it collapsing?” he asked. “Because the people don’t have confidence in it, period.”

The Final Countdown for the New Criminal Justice System

The Mexican government has less than three months to finish implementing the new system, putting the pressure on judicial system operators and administrators to meet the deadline. For its part, the PGR said it has trained over 90% of its personnel involved in operating oral trials, a critical component of the NSJP. It was also announced that 11 new Federal Criminal Justice Centers (Centros de Justicia Penal Federal) opened their doors on February 29, each with three district judges and an appeals court, all to process cases involving Mexico’s National Procedural Criminal Code (Código Nacional de Procedimientos Penales, CNPP). The 11 new centers are spread throughout eight entities nationwide (Aguascalientes, Colima, Hidalgo, Mexico City, Nuevo León, Quintana Roo, the State of México, and Tabasco).

Sources:

Baranda, Antonio. “Advierten colapso de sistema de justicia.” Reforma. February 18, 2016.

Aranda, Jesús. “Reto institucional, el nuevo sistema de justicia penal: procuradora.” La Jornada. February 29, 2016.

Reyes, Juan Pablo. “Se suman 9 entidades a sistema de justicia penal.” Excélsior. March 1, 2016.

Webpage. Secretaría Técnica del Consejo de Coordinación para la Implementación del Sistema de Justicia Penal (SETEC). Secretaría de Gobernación. Last accessed March 10, 2016.