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New Justice System Rolling Out In Mexico

Photo caption:

Photo by Associated Press

A gavel rests on the table of a model courtroom at Mexico's National Institute of Penal Sciences in Mexico City, July 12, 2008. Students used the courtroom to prepare for the new legal system that will replace its closed proceedings with public oral trials in which suspects are presumed innocent, legal authorities can be held more accountable and equal justice is promised to all.

New Justice System Rolling Out In Mexico


David Shirk, director, Justice in Mexico Program, University of San Diego


Oral trials — similar to those in the U.S. — are expected to make Mexico's justice system more transparent.

Mexico is taking a big step toward overhauling how justice works across the country. This week is the deadline for courts throughout that country to switch from a written trial system to an oral trial system.

Oral trials—similar to those in the U.S.—are expected to make Mexico's justice system more transparent.

They'll be open to the public and recorded on video. A three-judge panel will be in charge of sentencing.

In the past, trials were paper-driven, with a single judge making decisions behind closed doors.

The new system is also expected to speed up proceedings.

The Mexican congress approved judicial reform in 2008. The year before, 59 percent of Mexican citizens told Gallup they did not have confidence in their country's justice system.

A 2012 report by the Rand Corporation found "judicial reform in Mexico has brought some positive effects to society by being associated with lower crime rates and by leading to improvements in the criminal justice system."

Deputy minister of justice Lizbeth Mata said the change is going to affect Americans as well as Mexicans.

"If a Mexican, foreigner, or American commits a crime in Mexico, they will be tried through the oral system," she said.


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