Mexico Law students, professors will attend training sessions as part of Justice System Reform

The University of San Diego is collaborating with the National Autonomous University of Mexico to prepare Mexican students and law professors for their country’s transition to U.S.-style oral trials.

USD’s Justice in Mexico initiative is receiving $1.1 million from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Narcotics and Law Enforcement to administer the program next year. Entitled “Oral Adversarial Skill-Building Immersion Seminar,” it comes as Mexico’s federal and state judicial systems transition from Mexico’s traditional inquisitorial approach where judges rely heavily on written documents.

Under the program, 240 law school students and faculty members from the Mexico City-based public university early next year will attend 40-hour skill building workshops. The training from U.S. attorneys, judges, magistrates and other experts includes sessions on presenting trial evidence and developing statements.

Yucatecan College Students in training
Yucatecan College Students in training (Photo:

The idea is to give them some of the skills they will need to function in the new criminal justice system,” said David Shirk, head of the Justice in Mexico project.

In addition to the workshops, selected participants will participate in study tours that will take them to Harvard, American University and University of San Diego. It will also include a symposium on focusing on Mexico’s progress in implementing judicial reform featuring key judicial scholars.

The program is part of the Merida Initiative, a multi-billion-dollar security agreement funded by the U.S. government that includes combating crime, promoting judicial reform, increasing border security and building resilient communities in Mexico

A 2008 constitutional amendment in Mexico requires that by 2016 state and federal judicial systems adopt oral accusatorial trials. In Baja California, only Mexicali has made the transitition. Tecate is scheduled to make the transition next year, followed by Tijuana, Ensenada and Rosarito Beach in 2016.

Oral Justice System in Yucatan (Photo: Google)