Rule of Law

Overview of Reforms to Mexico’s Judicial System

An Overview of Reforms to Mexico’s Judicial System

Mexico is in the process of implementing historic reforms to its criminal justice system. The result of constitutional amendments and legislative changes passed by the Mexican Congress in 2008, these reforms will significantly alter the manner in which criminal procedures are conducted. Until now, Mexico has operated under a system in which those accused of a crime are presumed guilty. Under the new system, Mexico will operate under an adversarial system in which those accused of a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

As explained by David A. Shirk, director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego, the judicial sector reforms passed by the Mexican Congress in 2008 comprise four main elements:

  1. Changes to criminal procedure through the introduction of new oral, adversarial procedures, alternative sentencing, and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms
  2. A greater emphasis on the due process rights of the accused
  3. Modifications to police agencies and their role in criminal investigations
  4. Tougher measures for combating organized crime.¹

The introduction of new criminal procedures relating to each of these four elements will present significant challenges to those currently practicing law and law enforcement in Mexican states. The Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) Alliance Partnership offers hands-on training programs to Mexican judges, prosecutors, investigators and forensic scientists that promote cross-jurisdictional cooperation on law enforcement issues, build efficiency and transparency in court systems, promote a consistent application of Rule of Law disciplines such as oral advocacy, nurture cooperation on issues from consumer fraud and piracy to drug trafficking and money laundering, and ensure that law enforcement and judicial officials work together in ways that apply a consistent Rule of Law focus across jurisdictions in U.S. and Mexican states.

Read David Shirk’s full report:
Justice Reform in Mexico: Change and Challenges in the Judicial Sector.

¹Shirk, D.A. (2010). Justice reform in mexico: change and challenges in the judicial sector. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.