OASIS Training Coordinator Janice Deaton Participates in Seminar in Collaboration with the UNAM

The Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México (UNAM) recently presented an online international seminar on the impact of home quarantines throughout the Americas on gender and domestic violence. The organizers invited two members of the OASIS team to present on gender violence in their countries: Janice Deaton, the Training Course Director at Justice in Mexico’s OASIS project, and Carmen Adriana Blanco Niño, an OASIS instructor from Barranquilla, Colombia. The seminar, “Perspectives in the Americas on Domestic Violence during COVID-19,” was held from April 20 through April 25, 2020, and was organized by UNAM professors Martha Malanche Gómez and Trilce Fabiola Ovilla Bueno.

Justice in Mexico’s collaboration with UNAM dates back to 2015 when UNAM hosted OASIS oral advocacy workshops. Trilce Ovilla Bueno was a participant in OASIS’s first trial skills workshop at UNAM, and in 2015, she participated in a study trip to San Diego and USD, where she and other outstanding OASIS participants from UNAM learned about the American justice system. Ms. Ovilla’s involvement with OASIS has continued since that time.

The Online Seminar

The seminar began with welcoming remarks from the Director of the Facultad de Derecho, Dr. Raúl Contreras Bustamante. Dr. Contreras was followed by UNAM Professor Marleke Ríos Nava, who gave the first presentation on an international overview of gender violence. She was followed by all-female presenters from Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay, the United States, and Mexico, who discussed domestic and gender violence in their respective countries during the COVID 19 crisis.

Domestic Violence Around the World

Professor Ríos Nava provided an overview of gender violence around the world and explained the international regulation of women’s rights and gender violence. Professor Ríos argued the most important treaty in women’s rights is the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which has been signed but not ratified by the United States. Professor Ríos discussed the global rise in gender violence cases resulting from the COVID 19 pandemic and concluded by discussing various resources for victims of gender or domestic violence.

Gender Violence in Argentina

Dr. Adriana Beatriz Rodríguez discussed gender violence in Argentina. Dr. Rodríguez, who teaches social work at the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, in Argentina, focused on the concerning factors brought on by the pandemic that tend to increase gender violence and domestic violence. She mentioned the home confinement and resultant inability to ask for help, as well as the other stressors brought on by the economic crisis surrounding the pandemic.

Domestic violence in Colombia

OASIS instructor Carmen Adriana Blanco Niño spoke on domestic violence in Colombia. Ms. Blanco has been a trial skills instructor with OASIS since its beginning in 2015 and is from the Universidad Libre de Barranquilla, Colombia.
Ms. Blanco likewise discussed the worrying conditions of confinement due to the virus, as well as the increase in alcohol consumption in Colombia during the pandemic. Ms. Blanco highlighted the correlation between heavy alcohol use and intimate partner violence. She provided statistics as well as resources for people suffering from gender violence.

Domestic violence in Paraguay

Dra. Nadia Czeranuik is from the Universidad Autónoma de Encarnación, Paraguay, where she teaches education and also teaches school to young children. Dr. Czeranuik addressed the problem of violence at the university level. There was also a discussion on the challenges when a teacher suspects a student is involved in gender violence. Dr. Czeranuik emphasized the importance of educating young children with appropriate gender values.

Domestic violence in Mexico

Dr. Elssie Núñez Carpizo, a law professor from UNAM, presented on gender violence in Mexico during COVID 19. Dr. Núñez, who specializes in law and sociology, concurred with the other speakers that the COVID 19 virus and the resulting safety measures have increased incidents of gender violence in Mexico. Dr. Núñez also provided resources for further learning.

Domestic violence in the United States

Ms. Deaton focused on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in the United States. She began by providing the results from the 2018 Thomas Reuters Foundation Perception Poll, which places the United States in the top ten most dangerous countries in the world according to global experts on women’s issues. Access the survey here. http://poll2018.trust.org/
Ms. Deaton then looked specifically at Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in the United States. As she explained, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared Domestic Violence or Intimate Partner Violence a public health problem. According to the CDC, about 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime and reported some form of IPV-related impact. Regarding non-physical violence, over 43 million women and 38 million men experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Ms. Deaton commented on factors that increase the risk for perpetration and victimization of IPV, according to the CDC.

The CDC’s report can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/ipv-technicalpackages.pdf

Sexual Violence on University Campuses

Next, Ms. Deaton discussed the issue of sexual violence on American university campuses. In 2012 and 2019, the American Association of University Professors conducted surveys that showed a quarter of undergraduate women at the schools reported nonconsensual sexual contact.

The report can be found here: https://www.aau.edu/sites/default/files/AAU-Files/Key-Issues/Campus Safety/Revised%20Aggregate%20report%20%20and%20appendices%201-7_(01-16-2020_FINAL).pdf

Response to Sexual Assault and IPV in the United States

Ms. Deaton listed some of the recent public responses to sexual violence, including the #MeToo movement. This movement has highlighted the prevalence of sexual assault throughout the country and in 2017, five of the “Silence Breakers” leading the #MeToo movement were named Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.” There have recently been several high-profile sexual assault trials where famous celebrities have been convicted.

Intimate Partner Violence During COVID 19

With this background, Ms. Deaton explained the United States is confronting many of the same pandemic-related challenges as Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay, and Mexico. That is, the statistics she presented showed an approximate 25% increase in reports of IPV since the quarantine or home confinement restrictions were imposed in mid to late-March, 2020. Ms. Deaton reported that there are resources for victims of IPV, however, the conditions of confinement make reporting difficult since victims cannot get away from their abusers. Ms. Deaton concluded by providing a list of resources for more information.


UNAM presented a very interesting international seminar on a compelling subject: gender violence and the impact of COVID 19. Over 180 participants attended the week-long online seminar, from various Latin American countries as well as Spain. The all-female cast of presenters are experts in law or sociology and gave similar perspectives of a problem that is all too common in each country.

Works Cited

Anderson, Nick, et al. “Survey finds evidence of widespread sexual violence at 33 universities.” Washington Post. October 15, 2019.

The world’s most dangerous countries for women.” Thomas Reuters Foundation. 2018.

Lumborg, Bjorn, and Michelle A. Williams. “The Cost of Domestic Violence is Astonishing.” The Washington Post. February 22, 2018.

Filipovic, Jill. “The Silence Breakers: Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.” Time. December, 2017

Campus Sexual Assault: Suggested Policies and Procedures.” American Association of University Professors. October, 2012.

Exitoso IV Simposium Internacional sobre Sistemas de Justicia Orales Adversariales

09/25/2018 (escrito por Alejandro Morán) – Durante los días 6 y 7 de septiembre de 2018, se llevó a cabo el IV Simposium Internacional sobre Sistemas de Justicia Orales Adversariales en el marco del programa Oral Adversarial Skill-Building Immersion Seminar. El evento fue organizado por el programa Justice in Mexico de la Universidad de San Diego en colaboración con la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), la Universidad de Guadalajara (UdeG), la Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL), y el Instituto Belisario Domínguez del Senado de la República. En el evento de dos días de duración, se expusieron temas relevantes al funcionamiento y la evaluación del Sistema de Justicia Penal Acusatorio (SJPA) en México.

Dr. Sergio García Ramírez analiza el NSJP en IV Simposium

Conferencia Magistral del Doctor Sergio García Ramírez

El Simposium dio inicio con una Conferencia Magistral a cargo del Doctor Sergio García Ramírez en la que desarrolló un profundo análisis del SJPA. El Dr. García Ramírez habló acerca de las herencias de los siglos pasados, la liberal y la positivista y la necesidad de armonizarlas. Criticó al sistema de justicia como uno punitivo y no de justicia, haciendo énfasis en la palabra reinserción dentro del sistema y expuso la necesidad de generar especial énfasis en la seguridad humana y la justicia formal. De igual forma García Ramírez cuestionó la capacidad operativa de los principales actores dentro del sistema, usando una analogía de una obra de teatro, brindando especial atención a la figura del policía como “el actor principal de la obra”.

En el panel“Retos y avances en el sistema de justicia en México”,   el ex Embajador de México en los Estados Unidos, Miguel Basáñez, expuso los resultados de un programa de capacitación a jueces mexicanos llevado a cabo en las ciudades de Boston (E.E.U.U.), Santiago (Chile) y Bogotá (Colombia) que permitieron identificar los 15 eslabones principales para poder afianzar la transición al SJPA: 1) respaldo político total; 2) exigencia de la sociedad civil; 3) reformas legales; 4) plataforma informático-tecnológica; 5) responsabilidad mediática;  ; 6) apoyo académico; 7) colegiación obligatoria; 8) profesionalización de policías; 9) profesionalización de fiscalía y defensoría; 10) Infraestructura; 11) símbolos e incentivos a operadores; 12) estadística; 13) capacitación permanente; 14) administración especializada; y 15) ejecución de penas y sistemas carcelarios.  Dentro de ellos, el Embajador Basáñez destacó como los principales el respaldo político y el apoyo de la sociedad civil. Posteriormente, la Doctora María de los Ángeles Fromow Rangel, ex Directora de la Secretaría Técnica para la Implementación del Sistema de Justicia Penal Acusatorio (SETEC), se enfocó en la importancia de establecer un modelo de conformación del servicio profesional de carrera, sobre un sana y operativa trilogía de investigación (policía, ministerio público y peritos), así como en la importancia de homogenizar las carpetas de investigación en el país. Por su parte, el Maestro Juventino Pérez Gómez, encargado de la Fiscalía Especializada para la Atención a Delitos de Alto Impacto en el estado de Oaxaca, mencionó que para la etapa de consolidación del sistema se tienen que considerar las relaciones de los principales operadores, poniendo especial análisis en la relación ministerio público-policía, recalcando que aún falta un plan de investigación, y además, que existen problemas serios en la operación del SJPA, en especial en el caso de Oaxaca y sus 570 municipios. Asimismo el Mtro. Pérez Gómez se unió a la conclusión del importante papel que juegan la sociedad civil, y las partes en general dentro del proceso.

En la mesa panel “Justicia en Marcha” se expusieron los resultados preliminares de un proyecto de investigación estadística del SJPA desarrollado por Justice in Mexico, el cual reúne a un grupo de destacados egresados de la UNAM que además, fueron participantes en los distintos seminarios de litigación que dicho programa de la Universidad de San Diego, lleva a cabo a través de su proyecto OASIS. En la mesa, moderada por el  Maestro Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira, el Licenciado Alfredo Ramírez Percastre comenzó resaltando la falta de indicadores suficientes para evaluar el SJPA de una manera eficiente y que los existentes no son útiles para el diagnóstico. El ponente presentó los resultados de una encuesta piloto sobre los retos y losgros del SJPA, y señaló como principales retos la corrupción, los medios obsoletos de investigación y la no utilización de mecanismos alternativos. De la misma forma resaltó mayor honestidad en los operadores, comparando con indicadores que sugieren que el 76% de los operadores afirman sentirse preparados para el SJPA a diferencia del 93% de los operadores encuestados en 2016 por Justice in Mexico, a través de la iniciativa Justiciabarómetro. Acto seguido, El Licenciado Héctor Esteban García destacó varios problemas actuales en la operación del SJPA, como es el poco uso del procedimiento abreviado que en México apenas alcanza un 40% mientras que en otros sistemas (por ejemplo en los Estados Unidos) la media nacional sería de un 93 a un 97 porciento. También se identificó el uso excesivo de la prisión preventiva en varios estados de la república, destacando a Jalisco con un 46 porciento de uso de la medida precautoriua y a Puebla con un 41 porciento. Como parte de la misma iniciativa “Justicia en Marcha”, el Maestro Juan García expuso los resultados de un estudio comparado de casos tanto en el sistema tradicional, como en el SJPA, en donde cotejó diversos aspectos dentro de ambos sistemas, como las duración del  proceso; el tamaño de los expedientes en cuanto su número de fojas; así como la cantidad de pruebas presentadas en juicio. El maestro García destacó una mayor rapidez y eficiencia del SJPA, en donde, sólo por mencionar un ejemplo, se excluyen un gran número de pruebas irrelevantes, a diferencia de lo que ocurría en el sistema tradicional. Para cerrar dicho panel, la Licenciada Pamela Soto Valdivieso, habló de la importancia de la capacitación de los operadores, y destacando que, de acuerdo a los resultados preliminares de la iniciativa “Justicia en Marcha”, apenas el 23 por ciento de capacitaciones son realizadas por parte del gobierno federal, mientras que el 77 por ciento,  son realizadas por instituciones extranjeras, como lo es OASIS. Con respecto a esta iniciativa de capacitación de Justice in Mexico, la Lic. Soto anunció el desarrollo de un manual para la capacitación en destrezas de litigación oral, que contendrá todos los elementos  del procedimiento, y cual estará disponible para todo el público.

Estudiantes, profesores y académicos del derecho se sumaron a la discusión del IV Simposium

Más de 200 profesores, estudiantes y académicos atendieron al IV Simposium Internacional sobre Sistemas de Justicia Orales Adversariales

El primer día de actividades concluyó con el panel “Riesgos de contra reforma”, moderado por la Maestra Susana Martínez Hernández, investigadora del Instituto Belisario Dominguez. En dicho  panel, el Mtro. Carlos Ríos Espinosa, investigador de Human Rights Watch y experto en reforma penal, expuso sobre la historia de la reforma y su recibimiento, abundando en los intentos de contra reforma desde 2014. El Mtro. Ríos Espinosa comentó acerca de la ampliación de un régimen de excepción dentro del mismo SJPA, en el que “se crea un régimen paralelo al sistema y este sólo lo entorpece generando leyes que violan DDHH” y puso como ejemplo la ley de seguridad interior. Según Ríos Espinosa, otro factor altamente problemático es el de las resoluciones de los jueces que tienden a ser contrarias al sistema, lo que genera que la credibilidad social se pierda.  A su vez, el Dr. Carlos Galindo, investigador del Instituto Belisario Domínguez, expuso cómo se ha ido modificando el SJPA atendiendo a temas políticos y a presión social, como en el caso de Chihuahua, que a pesar de no haber redactado originalmente un catálogo para la prisión preventiva oficiosa, a raíz de un caso se terminó por redactar uno, como ha ocurrido en todos los estados del país. El Dr. Galindo habló  también de varios casos de intentos de contra reforma de baja escala, como el último del 30 de agosto del presente año, que propone introducir los delitos de corrupción al catálogo de prisión preventiva oficiosa. Haciendo eco de la misma problemática, la Maestra María Novoa, Coordinadora del Programa de Justicia, en México Evalúa, comentó  resaltó la presión social en contra del SJPA, e identificó varios factores (como el incremento en la violencia) que se han relacionado de manera imprecisa con la implementación del SJPA y del principio de presunción de inocencia, provocando que:  “socialmente se [haya] generado la idea de que a más encarcelados, más justicia”, lo que harepercutido de manera negativa en las resoluciones de los jueces, pues a nivel federal, manifestó Novoa, “7 de 10 solicitudes de prisión preventiva son otorgadas y a nivel estatal 9 de 10”. Novoa además desarrolló otros temas importantes como el fenómeno de la puerta giratoria, el tema de la reincidencia delictiva, concluyendo que lo anterior ocurren en un mayoría por una mala operación y falta de implementación, más que por un problema del sistema en sí, poniendo en evidencia que, por ejemplo, de las 32 Unidades de Medidas Cautelares (OMECAS) posibles, a la fecha sólo existen tres en el país.

El segundo día de actividades del Simposium inició con la mesa panel: “Reformas procesales en Latinoamérica”, moderada por el Mtro. Pablo Héctor González Villalobos, Magistrado Presidente del Tribunal Superior de Chihuahua, en la cual se expusieron las perspectivas comparadas de Chile, Colombia y Argentina, en sus reformas procesales. El Maestro Claudio Pávlic, defensor público en la reforma chilena, abrió la mesa hablando de la implementación del sistema en Chile en el 2000, y de cómo desde los cinco años de su entrada en vigor ya se veía una considerable disminución en la población penitenciaria. Expuso que consideraba  como factores importantes el hecho de que existió un apoyo político significativo, de que había transparencia y publicidad en las audiencias—lo cual provocó críticas de los medios de comunicación y del público en general que detonaron cambios importantes al sistema. De la misma forma, Pavlic destacó la gran cantidad de información estadística disponible, que identificaba los problemas del sistema y la evaluación de los operadores, esta última realizada por inspectores que eran los mismos operadores del sistema. Posteriormente, La Mtra. Ana María Ramos, Directora Ejecutiva de la Corporación Excelencia en la Justicia, expuso que existen serios problemas con el sistema colombiano, siendo el problema principal la eficacia. Dijo también que existe un descontento social que ha generado que se promuevan reformas como reducción de beneficios al imputado o quitar el procedimiento abreviado, que terminan por entorpecer el sistema. Ramos advirtió que identifica muchas similitudes en las discusiones actuales en México con las que Colombia tuvo hace unos años. Por último, el Dr. Máximo Langer, Director del Programa de Justicia Penal en la Universidad de California en Los Ángeles (UCLA), señaló que existen problemas parecidos en Argentina y en México. Mencionó que si bien la celeridad de los procesos aumentó, aún existen problemas en cuanto a la investigación, particularmente de los delitos graves, e igualmente identificó la eficacia como el principal problema de los sistemas de corte acusatorio. El Dr. Langer continuó hablando de la importancia del procedimiento abreviado y dijo que, para muchos, es este el sistema, y no tanto la oralidad del proceso. Según Langer, apenas el 45 por ciento de los casos en Argentina, se van por esta vía.

UNAM, UANL y BUAP discuten planes de estudio durante IV Simposium

Directores de las Facultades de Derecho discuten los retos a la reforma de planes de estudios

El Simposium concluyó con el panel “Retos en la reforma a los planes de estudio”, que reunió a directores de las facultades de derecho de la UNAM, el Dr. Raúl Contreras Bustamante; la UANL, el Mtro. Oscar Lugo Serrato; y la Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP), Dr. Luis Ochoa Bilboa; y moderada por la Maestra Trilce Ovilla Bueno, Coordinadora de Asuntos Internacionales y Multidisciplinarios en la Facultad de Derecho de la UNAM, en la que se analizaron los retos de la reforma a los planes de estudio en las facultades de derecho mexicanas. Dr. Raúl Contreras expuso los cambios que se han generado en la UNAM respecto a su plan de estudios. Comentó que la Facultad busca un enfoque transversal enfocado en temas como los derechos humanos, la equidad de género y las convenciones internacionales,  poniendo especial atención en los temas de la constitucionalidad y la convencionalidad. Afirmó que se buscan sistemas de estudio flexibles y  rescató el hecho de la autonomía de la UNAM para realizar estas acciones a diferencia de otras instituciones internacionales. El Mtro. Oscar Lugo expuso que en la UANL se ha estudiado el perfil que se necesita para el abogado, y que se ha buscado un estudio multidisciplinario adecuándose a los cambios al sistema de justicia, introduciendo materias como la de Mecanismos Alternativos de Solución de Controversias (MASC) , así como la materia de litigación oral, como obligatoria para los ocho mil estudiantes de la licenciatura de derecho de la UANL. Por último, el Dr. Luis Ochoa se enocó en la renovación de los planes de estudio que se lleva a cabo cada 5 años en la BUAP. Sin embrago el Ochoa alertó sobre la poca cantidad de investigadores con los que cuenta la carrera de Derecho en la BUAP, y sobre  “resistencia por investigar”, en donde los alumnos dan mayor importancia a las cuestiones prácticas que enseñan los abogados litigantes, antes que en el desarrollo de investigación original, concluyendo que este es un problema importante para la implementación y modernización de de planes de estudio a la luz del SJPA.

El IV Simposium Internacional sobre Sistemas de Justicia Orales Adversariales marcó la conclusión de otro exitoso año de actividades del proyecto OASIS de Justice in Mexico de la Universidad de San Diego, en su colaboración con las facultades públicas de derecho más grandes de México. En los próximos meses, el proyecto estará arrancando los Talleres de Litigación Oral en la UANL, la UdeG y la BUAP, continuando con su esfuerzo permanente para la actualización y capacitación continua de los operadores del sistema de justicia en México.

Justice in Mexico inaugurates third year of oral adversarial training at UNAM Law School

Chilean attorney Leonardo Moreno leads a small group of UNAM law professors through an oral adversarial skills practice session.

Chilean attorney Leonardo Moreno leads a small group of UNAM law professors through an oral adversarial skills practice session.

3/2/17 (written by Ashley Ahrens-Víquez) Now in its third year, Justice in Mexico’s OASIS (Oral Adversarial Skill-Building Immersion Seminar) program just completed its first of three workshops providing oral advocacy training to law faculty and students at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) Law School in Mexico City this past week.

Organized as a 40-hour intensive workshop, participants had the opportunity to further develop skills and techniques specifically adapted for Mexico’s New Criminal Justice System (Nuevo Sistema de Justicia Penal, NSJP). The main goal of the workshops are to provide oral adversarial skills training to UNAM Law School faculty and students and support Mexico’s transition and implementation of its oral, adversarial and accusatory criminal justice system.

Workshop Structure

During the two-week workshop, various instructors gave lectures on different aspects of oral litigation, including 1) Structure of Opening Statements; 2) Sufficiency of the Evidence; 3) Closing Arguments and Sentencing; Theory of the Case; Presenting Evidence at Trial; Interrogation and Cross-examination; Objections; Use of prior statements; and Legal theory. The workshops are comprised of about 20 hours of theory and about 20 hours of practical exercises, and are taught by United States, judges, prosecutors, and/or defense attorneys, with teaching experience in the United States. Some Mexican and Chilean prosecutors and/or defense attorneys are also incorporated to provide comparative perspective. On the final day of the seminar, participants apply what they have learned in a mock trial, after which they receive feedback on their performance and suggestions for improvement.

Since 2015, the OASIS program has helped to further develop oral advocacy trial skills to over 359 UNAM law students and law professors. As the February workshop draws to a close, Justice in Mexico looks forward to the successful implementation of the next two OASIS oral advocacy skill building workshops taking place March 13-25 and April 3-7, 2017 at UNAM Law School.

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

OASIS Boston participants at closing ceremony with OASIS Operations Coordinator Diana Sánchez, OASIS Field Coordinator Alfredo Ramírez Percastre, Dr. David Shirk, Professor Philip Heymann, UNAM Dean Raúl Juan Contreras, and UNAM representative Miguel González.

OASIS Boston participants at closing ceremony with OASIS Operations Coordinator Diana Sánchez, OASIS Field Coordinator Alfredo Ramírez Percastre, Dr. David Shirk, Professor Philip Heymann, UNAM Dean Raúl Juan Contreras, and UNAM representative Miguel González.

7/22/16 (written by rkuckertz) —From July 4 to July 15, six faculty members and four students from the  UNAM Law School (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Facultad de Derecho) were selected to participate in the second of three 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 was made possible by a grant from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. During their visit to Boston, UNAM faculty and students had the opportunity to meet and learn from prominent public officials and legal experts in the Boston community such as former Boston Police Commissioner Paul Evans, prosecutor John Capin, 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, prosecutor Ted Merritt, District Judge Patti Saris, defense attorney Martin Weinberg, and federal prosecutor Fred M. Wyshak Jr.

With the assistance and direction of OASIS Regional Coordinator and Harvard professor Philip Heymann, each of these presenters met with the group of UNAM visitors either at Harvard Law School or at the federal courthouse in downtown Boston. Over the course of the study trip’s two weeks, Professor Heymann encouraged OASIS participants to dialogue with the presenters, providing a platform for professors and students to compare elements of the U.S. criminal justice system with the Mexican legal system and its recent implementation of the New Criminal Justice System (Nuevo Sistema de Justicia penal, NSJP).

The group from the UNAM Law School began the program at Harvard Law School on Tuesday, July 5 with an inauguration ceremony led by OASIS Director Dr. David Shirk, OASIS Field Coordinator Laura Calderón, and Professor Heymann. Following the inaugural ceremony, Professor Heymann hosted a screening of a specially edited version of the 1979 ABC documentary, “The Shooting of Big Man: Anatomy of a Criminal Case,” based on a Harvard law research project by Harvard Law School alum and Seattle criminal defense attorney Eric Saltzman. Following the film viewing, Professor Heymann led a discussion on the elements of the criminal case depicted in the documentary.

Police Commissioner Paul Evans and Professor Phil Heymann during their discussion with participants on police investigations

Police Commissioner Paul Evans and Professor Phil Heymann during their discussion with participants on police investigations.

On Wednesday, July 6, the morning began with a group discussion on the role of the police in criminal investigations led by former Boston Police Commissioner Paul Evans. Mr. Evans, who now runs a consulting firm, served as Boston’s Police Commissioner for ten years and shared many reflections on his experience with the group. Specifically, Mr. Evans identified two critical elements to a successful national police force: strong leadership within police operations and accountability to the general public. He stressed the importance of properly training incoming police officers, supplying them with the necessary equipment, and compensating police officers fairly based on their responsibilities, as these actions often contribute to a more accountable police force. Mr. Evans concluded the discussion with an analysis of an incident that occurred in 2014 in Chicago, Illinois in which a police officer fatally shot a teenager sixteen times. Mr. Evans discussed how in this case, there was a collective failure of leadership by the police and many public officials who attempted to hide the events of that evening. Mr. Evans presented this case as a counterexample to how police leadership should respond to such acts of “egregious excessive force”, stressing that the leadership’s lack of accountability in this case resulted in a heightened sense of public mistrust of the police.

In the afternoon, the group watched the film 12 Angry Men, which depicted the members of a jury deliberating following the closing argument of a murder trial. The film illustrated the role of the jury in U.S. criminal trial proceedings by demonstrating how each of the twelve jurors interpreted the evidence presented in court and how each of them came to a determination based on their individual interpretations. As Mexico’s new criminal justice system does not feature jury trials, this film presented a comparative picture of how criminal trials are decided in the United States as opposed to in Mexico’s new system. Following the film, Professor Philip Heymann initiated a discussion with the participants surrounding the process of juror selection and the role of the jury throughout the trial.

On Thursday, July 7, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Capin spoke to the group regarding the role of the prosecution in U.S. criminal cases. Mr. Capin separated the prosecution’s role into four specific areas—investigation, accusation, trial, and appeals. He first explained the distinction between cases that begin with the detention of the accused and cases that begin without detention. Mr. Capin then explained the role of the prosecutor in determining the charges brought against the accused. Specifically, the prosecutor often possesses a wide range of discretion in selecting the charges that will be brought against the defendant. However, as Mr. Capin clarifies, the majority of these cases will not be brought to trial; instead, approximately 97% of cases are decided by negotiated settlements between the prosecution and the defense. The group then engaged in a brief discussion regarding the role of the prosecutor in the trial and the subsequent appeals process, after which Mr. Capin answered the group’s various questions concerning the prosecution’s role in negotiated settlements and the trial.

In the afternoon session, Program Coordinator Octavio Rodríguez presented Justice in Mexico’s past publications and various ongoing projects. He described the mission of Justice in Mexico and the origins of the OASIS program, which is made possible by a grant from the U.S. State Department as part of the Mérida Initiative.

Harvard professor and attorney Andrew Crespo addresses OASIS participants during his presentation on the role of the defense.

Harvard professor and attorney Andrew Crespo addresses OASIS participants during his presentation on the role of the defense.

On Friday, July 8, Harvard professor and defense attorney Andrew Crespo presented to the group of UNAM professors and students regarding the role of the defense. He initiated the discussion with an overview of the United States federal system, distinguishing the local, state and federal legal systems as independent entities with separate corresponding legal processes. Professor Crespo then discussed the landmark case, Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), which established the accused’s right to legal representation. Professor Crespo also elaborated on the defense attorney’s role in representing the accused. Specifically, he emphasized that it is the defense attorney’s responsibility to provide a “holistic defense” to the client, taking into account all sociological factors—such as mental health and socioeconomic status—that may assist the defense attorney in understanding the client. Professor Crespo concluded with an overview of the defense attorney’s role throughout the legal process, from the initial meeting with the client to the trial and subsequent sentence.

The second week of the program began with a presentation by Program Coordinator Octavio Rodríguez on the results of a new survey administered by Justice in Mexico’s Justiciabarómetro project. One of the primary objectives of this project is to “take the pulse” of Mexico’s justice system through surveys of its judicial operators. As Mr. Rodríguez explained to the group, this most recent study was made possible by a research grant from the MacArthur Foundation. The survey, implemented over the course of several months from April to June 2016, sought to determine the perceptions of judges, public defenders, public prosecutors, and other judicial actors of the current judicial system. Mr. Rodríguez shared some of the initial results of the study, noting that 89% of those surveyed considered themselves prepared to work within the new judicial system. He also shared that 50% of survey participants reported employing alternative solutions, such as mediation and negotiation, rather than litigation in a trial setting. However, Mr. Rodríguez shared that this figure must reach at least 90% in order for the new judicial system to be completely functional.

Following Mr. Rodríguez’s presentation, Catherine Peshkin of the Harvard Law School LLM Office visited the group in order to discuss requirements for admission into Harvard’s LLM program for foreign lawyers. Following Ms. Peshkin’s presentation, Assistant Deputy Bruce Ohr of the Department of Justice (DOJ) discussed his role in overseeing the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). Specifically, he explained that the OCDETF does not deal directly with criminal cases. Instead, this task force provides funding to various agencies such as the DEA and FBI in order to allow them to investigate large organized crime cases and to collaborate with other agencies, including the DOJ. Mr. Ohr continued by elaborating on the various ways in which the United States and Mexico engage in intelligence sharing and collaborative efforts in order to investigate criminal cases related to organized crime. He also discussed how the NSJP will impact this ongoing collaboration, referencing various investigative processes and bilateral policies. Mr. Ohr concluded by asking OASIS participants to reflect on how they have been trained for the judicial reform and how this training has impacted their work.

Director of the Organized Crime division for the U.S. Attorney General's Office Cynthia Young discusses organized crime investigations with the group.

Director of the Organized Crime division for the U.S. Attorney General’s Office Cynthia Young discusses organized crime investigations with the group.

The following morning, on July 12, participants met with Cynthia Young, the Director of the Organized Crime division for the U.S. Attorney General. Ms. Young started the day with a discussion of organized crime in Mexico. She discussed the origins of drug cartels in Mexico and how the cartels’ modus operandi has shifted as a result of local disputes. Ms. Young then presented a comparative picture of organized crime in the United States, examining its origins and evolution throughout the twentieth century and into the modern era. She concluded by discussing how the federal government typically investigates and prosecutes such crimes.

In the afternoon, the group listened to a presentation by prosecutor Ted Merritt regarding the prosecution of police charged with abusing their authority in the United States. Mr. Merritt opened the dialogue by explaining the divide that exists with regard to public perception of police.  While the majority of white, middle-class Americans believe the police to be trustworthy, this is not the case for Black Americans. He also referenced recent events that have sparked national controversy, such as the 2014 Ferguson, Missouri police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager, and the 2014 shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in Chicago, in order to explain how a lack of leadership and proper accountability in the police force often lead to violations of constitutional civil liberties. Mr. Merritt also elaborated upon the prosecution of such cases, discussing how they are brought to trial and the manner in which they are prosecuted. Following the presentation, Professor Heymann initiated a discussion regarding police abuse in Mexico and how it is handled under the law. Participants furthered the dialogue by discussing how the NSJP reforms seek to improve training programs for police officers and the general professionalization of the police force in Mexico.

UNAM Professor Christopher Pastrana Cortés shares his insights with the group.

UNAM Professor Christopher Pastrana Cortés shares his insights with the group.

On the morning of July 13, participants traveled to the federal courthouse in downtown Boston in order to attend a sentencing hearing. Immediately after, Chief U.S. District Judge and Chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission Patti Saris spoke to the group about federal sentencing in the United States, explaining that sentencing guidelines are primarily linked to mandatory minimum sentences for the corresponding crime. From there, the judge takes an incremental approach to sentencing, taking into account all crimes that were committed and their individual sentences to create a single sentence. For instance, as federal sentencing guidelines employ a tiered point system with each crime corresponding to a unique number of points, the man being sentenced at the hearing received a 2-point deduction for pleading guilty to his crimes, but he failed to receive a 3-point deduction because he ran away and subsequently committed further crimes. As a result, Judge Saris determined the final sentence based on a figure that accounted for each of these circumstances.

Following the sentencing hearing, defense attorneys Martin Weinberg and Robert Goldstein attended a lunch session with the group, providing background on the motion to suppress hearing that the group would witness in the afternoon as a part of a tax evasion case. Specifically, Mr. Weinberg’s primary objective as the defendant’s attorney was to invalidate the affidavit that several informants had submitted, citing several mistakes of fact within the affidavit and emphasizing the informants’ vested interest in the outcome of the case.

UNAM Law School student Brandon Reyes Salinas practices oral trial skills during “Train the Trainer”.

UNAM Law School student Brandon Reyes Salinas practices oral trial skills during “Train the Trainer”.

On July 14, OASIS Training Director Janice Deaton visited the group at Harvard Law School in order to lead a “Train the Trainer” session on teaching oral trial skills. Ms. Deaton guided the participants through the training, allowing each individual to present a section of an oral trial to a partner (opening statement, direct examination by plaintiff, cross-examination by defendant’s attorney, direct examination by defendant’s attorney, closing arguments) while another participant practiced offering effective critiques to the other.

Following Ms. Deaton’s training session, federal prosecutor Fred M. Wyshak Jr. visited the group in order to discuss how corruption cases are investigated and prosecuted in the federal justice system. Specifically, Mr. Wyshak discussed the importance of criminal informants in investigating crimes of corruption and how prosecutors use this intelligence to build a criminal case. He also described the various challenges that the government faces in investigating corruption cases.

On July 15, the last day of the OASIS Boston Study Trip, UNAM faculty and students participated in the official closing ceremony at the Harvard Law School. In attendance were OASIS Director Dr. David Shirk, as well as UNAM Law School representative Miguel González and UNAM Law School Dean Dr. Raúl Juan Contreras Bustamante. Each addressed the group, emphasizing the crucial role that the participants play in contributing to the future of Mexico’s transitioning judicial system. UNAM representatives Mr. González and Dr. Contreras also highlighted the importance of the ongoing collaboration between the United States and Mexico, especially in the context of Mexico’s judicial reform. Immediately following these comments, each participant was personally congratulated by OASIS and UNAM representatives and presented with a certificate of completion for their successful participation in the two-week study trip.

UNAM Law School professors and students participate in OASIS San Diego international study trip


OASIS San Diego participants at closing ceremony with Dr. David Shirk, UNAM Dean Raul Juan Contreras, UNAM professor and OASIS representative Trilce Ovilla, UNAM Law School graduate and OASIS field coordinator Alfredo Ramírez Percastre, and UNAM Professor Miguel Gonzaález.

OASIS San Diego participants at closing ceremony with Dr. David Shirk, Octavio Rodríguez, UNAM Dean Raul Juan Contreras, UNAM professor and OASIS representative Trilce Ovilla, UNAM Law School graduate and OASIS field coordinator Alfredo Ramírez Percastre, and UNAM Professor Miguel González.

06/24/2016 (written by msmith) – Seven faculty and three students from the National Autonomous University of Mexico Law School (UNAM) were chosen to participate in a two-week study trip to learn about the U.S. criminal justice system. Called the Oral Advocacy Skill-building Immersion Seminar (OASIS), this study trip was made possible by a grant from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs as part of the Mérida Initiative. During their two weeks in San Diego, the UNAM visitors participated in a series of workshops with OASIS Lead Trainer Janice Deaton as well as special sessions with Judge Chris Whitten, prosecutors Gregg McClain and José Castillo, public defenders Monique Carter and Mary Jo Barr, pretrial services officer Charlene Delgado, Judge Jeff Barton, Baja California Judge Luciano Angulo, Judge Luis Vargas, and Deputy Attorney General Anthony da Silva.

State prosecutor Gregg McClain presents to OASIS participants.

State prosecutor Gregg McClain presents to OASIS participants.

On their first official day, June 3rd, participants participated in an opening ceremony led by Dr. David Shirk (Director, Justice in Mexico), Dean Stephen Ferruolo (USD Law School) and Dean Noelle Norton (USD College of Arts and Sciences). Afterwards, participants listened to state prosecutor Gregg McClain who discussed the organization of the state prosecution system. McClain described the role of the prosecutor as well as the way the justice system is set up for transparency to give people confidence in the system. He mentioned that this transparency backfires sometimes since it allows for criticism from the public and from the media. Mr. McClain also spoke about a prosecutor’s responsibility to protect the public while also being fair to the defendant and the victim. Finally, Mr. McClain said his job was not just to put people away but to try to get to know the accused in order to determine if they are opportunistic or dangerous, driven by drugs or antisocial. Depending on the person and cause of the crime committed, Mr. McClain emphasized the broad range of sentences that can be supported by the prosecutor’s office including finishing their GED/college degree or going to a drug rehabilitation center.

Federal prosecutor José Castillo speaks to OASIS study trip participants.

Federal prosecutor José Castillo speaks to OASIS study trip participants.

Federal prosecutor Jose Castillo spoke to participants in the afternoon about the differences between the U.S. Attorney’s office and the state prosecutor’s office.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office represents the United States in federal cases, meaning they arise from federal law created by Congress. These cases are heard in federal courthouses throughout the country. State and local prosecutors (whether the district attorney, county/city prosecutor, or the state attorney general’s office), by contrast, represent the state for cases arising under state law, created by each state legislature. Occasionally, federal and state law may overlap in a certain area, allowing both federal and state prosecutors to pursue the case. Mr. Castillo also spoke about the 4th amendment (protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government), 5th amendment (protection against self-incrimination), and 6th amendment (guarantees the rights of criminal defendants, including the right to a public trial without unnecessary delay, the right to a lawyer, the right to an impartial jury, and the right to know who your accusers are and the nature of the charges and evidence against you). Mr. Castillo also discussed briefly the juror system and the mandates under which jurors must operate.

On Saturday, June 4th, participants watched a specially edited version of the 1979 ABC documentary, “The Shooting of Big Man: Anatomy of a Criminal Case,” based on a Harvard law research project by Harvard Law School alum and Seattle criminal defense attorney Eric Saltzman. Professor Allen Snyder led discussions following the film focused on such topics as how the argument of self-defense was a key factor in determining the outcome of the case as well as the important role of preparing the defendant for cross-examination. Afterwards, OASIS Lead Trainer Janice Deaton guided participants in the first of two “Train the Trainer” sessions offering insights on how to be an effective teacher of oral trial skills and give a constructive critique to students.

Charlene Delgado discusses pretrial services with OASIS study trip participants.

Charlene Delgado discusses pretrial services with OASIS study trip participants.

On June 6th, participants visited the downtown San Diego branch of the public defenders office and heard from two criminal defense attorneys, Mary Jo Barr and Monique Carter. Monique discussed the different level of crimes (infractions, misdemeanors, felonies), the process a public defender goes through with their client, as well as the life of a criminal case. Mary Jo Barr emphasized there is a misperception of the public defender’s only representing  the poorest of the poor. Instead, Ms. Barr argued it is very difficult for people to retain private council and that the public defender’s office represents over 80% of people charged with crimes- both misdemeanors and felonies.  In the afternoon, participants met with pretrial services officer Charlene Delgado.  Pretrial services help prepare cases for trial in court. The process has three functions: to collect and analyze defendant information for use in determining risk, to make recommendations to the court concerning conditions of release, and to watch defendants while being released from secure custody during the pretrial phase. The function of these services is to reduce the jail population and also help people to get back to their normal lives after being released.

On June 7th, participants visited the San Diego Superior Court and were given the opportunity to experience what reporting to jury duty is like as well as sit in on various courtroom proceedings. Participants listened to the opening statements and presentation of the People’s case for a DUI trial in Judge Majors-Lewis courtroom and also observed various witnesses called in for their testimony in relation to a murder trial in Judge O’Neill’s courtroom.  Participants also sat in on a mental health trial that focused on a sexual assault case in Judge David Gill’s room. Judge Gill also took a 20 minute recess in order to speak with the OASIS group. Participants were able to ask questions regarding his role as a judge, jury selection, as well as details about the specific case they had just heard.  In the afternoon, participants met with Judge Luis Vargas to reflect on what they had observed and ask questions.  Major topics discussed included the three strikes law in California that impacted sentencing and also limited the discretion of the judge in deciding a sentence, plea bargains and the prosecutor’s discretion in determining the plea bargain, questions during cross-examination, and objections.

Arizona Judge Chris Whitten (Maricopa County) discusses negotiations with OASIS study trip participants.

Arizona Judge Chris Whitten (Maricopa County) discusses negotiations with OASIS study trip participants.

On June 8th, participants met with Arizona civil and tax court judge Chris Whitten who took participants through a mock readiness hearing. A readiness hearing is a hearing in front of the judge with the prosecutor and defense attorney present where the parties decide if the case is going to trial, continued or some plea bargain reached. Participants also heard from Judge Whitten on the limiting amount of power judges now have when prosecutors are given so much control with the plea agreements. Participants also met with prosecutor Lisa Rodríguez who discussed alternatives to incarceration. Ms. Rodríguez spoke at length about the Criminal Justice Realignment Act of 2011 as well as Prop. 47 that took effect in 2014.  Both the Realignment Act as well as Prop. 47 transformed the criminal justice system by reducing the prison population, recidivism, and prison spending.  Prop. 47 reduces simple drug possession crimes to misdemeanors, reduces many thefts to misdemeanors, requires resentencings, and overall has redirected state prison spending to 10% to Victim Trauma Recovery Centers, 25% to K-12, and 65% for grants for mental health, substance abuse, and diversion.  Ms. Rodríguez also discussed pretrial programs including electronic monitoring in lieu of bail as well as post-sentencing custodial alternatives (county parole, home detention, residential reentry center, work furlough).

Dr. David Shirk moderates first panel of "Promoting the Rule of Law in Mexico" international conference. Panelists include State supreme court justice Pablo Héctor González Villalobos (Chihuahua), State supreme court justice Alejandro González Gómez (Michoacán), Hon. Teresa Sanchez Gordon (Los Angeles Superior Court), and Hon. Runston Maino (San Diego Superior Court)

Dr. David Shirk moderates first panel of “Promoting the Rule of Law in Mexico” international conference. Panelists include State supreme court justice Pablo Héctor González Villalobos (Chihuahua), State supreme court justice Alejandro González Gómez (Michoacán), Hon. Teresa Sanchez Gordon (Los Angeles Superior Court), and Hon. Runston Maino (San Diego Superior Court)

Participants attended “Promoting the Rule of Law in Mexico” international conference, co-hosted by Justice in Mexico and the USD School of Law, on June 10th.  The conference consisted of opening remarks, multiple panels as well as a keynote luncheon. Opening remarks were given by Dr. David Shirk, Dean Stephen Ferruolo, and Justin Bird (vice president of Sempra Energy).  Dr. Héctor Díaz Santana, director of Inter-Institutional Coordination of the Council for the Implementation of the Criminal Justice System’s Technical Secretariat (SETEC), inaugurated the conference by offering an overview of what brought about the reform and what have been the challenges to its implementation. The first panel, “From the Bench: Judges’ Take on Justice Reform,” was moderated by Dr. Shirk. The recurring themes included the newly acquired responsibilities of judges, the importance of training judges, and the role of the California Judges Association in allowing California judges the opportunity to collaborate with Mexican judges during this transition. Panelists included Mexican state supreme court justices Pablo Héctor González Villalobos (Chihuahua), Alejandro González Gómez (Michoacán), Hon. Teresa Sanchez Gordon (Los Angeles Superior Court), and Hon. Runston Maino (San Diego Superior Court). The second panel, moderated by Alejandro Rios Rippa, director of Corporate Ethics and Litigation, focused on the topic of anti-corruption efforts in Mexico. Panelists included Peter Ainsworth, senior anti-corruption counsel of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Dr. Marco Antonio Fernández, associate researcher at México Evalúa, and Benjamin Hill, head of the new Specialized Ethics and Conflicts of Interest Prevention Office of the Mexican Federal Government. The last panel, “Improving the Administration of Justice,” moderated by Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira, Justice in Mexico program coordinator, reflected on the themes of capacity-building and training, U.S.-Mexico partnership, and institutional independence. Panelists included Miguel Sarre Inguíniz, professor at Instituto Tecnológico de México (ITAM), Ray Allan Gattinella, senior legal advisor for the Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development of the Department of Justice, Luciano Angulo Espinoza, judge for the state of Baja California, and Robert Ciaffa, federal prosecutor. During the keynote luncheon, conference attendees first heard from William Ostick, U.S. consul general in Tijuana who gave some comments and introduced Dr. Alfonso Pérez Daza, advisor for the Federal Judiciary (Consejo de la Judicatura Federal).

UNAM Law School student Héctor García García practices oral trial techniques in a "Train the Trainer" session.

UNAM Law School student Héctor García García practices oral trial techniques in a “Train the Trainer” session.

On June 11th, participants listened to Judge Luciano Angulo reflect upon the changing role of the judge and his experiences with unique cases that demonstrate the wide range of what is brought before him and the need for the judge to especially pay attention and provide protection to the victim in some cases. During the latter part of the day, participants attended the second “Train the Trainer” session, co-led by federal prosecutor Anthony Da Silva and OASIS Lead Trainer Janice Deaton.  The session continued to guide participants through how to give successful critiques to someone practicing oral trial techniques. Each participant presented a part of an oral trial (opening statement, direct examination by plaintiff, cross-examination by defendant’s attorney, direct examination by defendant’s attorney, closing arguments) while another participant was responsible to critique the presentation afterward. After the critique was given, Ms. Deaton or Mr. Da Silva “critiqued the critique” and offered their perspective of how to improve giving criticism.

Finally, June 13th marked the conclusion of the OASIS San Diego study trip. Closing statements were made by Dr. David Shirk and Dr. Raul Juan Contreras Bustamante, dean of the UNAM Law School.  Each emphasized the important role participants play in the future of building a successful criminal justice system in Mexico as well as the urgent need for their continued participation in teaching oral trial skills for future lawyers at UNAM.  Following these comments, participants participated in a closing ceremony where each was given a certificate recognizing their time and study trip completion. In the afternoon, Anthony Da Silva invited participants to watch his argument of an appeal by a San Diego man convicted of rape and currently serving 37 yrs to life in prison. Da Silva is representing the People in this appeal, which is focused on the court’s decision to allow a book that was in the defendant’s possession into evidence of the trial. The defendant’s attorney argues the book caused prejudicial bias and should not have been allowed in court, while Mr. Da Silva is providing the information that established and maintains that the book was rightly admitted into evidence. The argument took place before a panel of three judges and their decision is to be made within 60 days from the day the oral argument took place. Mr. Da Silva arranged for the OASIS group to meet with the prosecutor and investigator that initially worked on this trial that led to a conviction. Participants were able to not only see how an appeal argument works, but to hear from Mr. Da Silva regarding what type of work goes into the preparation for an appeal.