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Assessing Mexico's Judicial Reform: Views of Judges, Prosecutors, and Public Defenders

NCJ Number
Matthew C. Ingram; Octavio Rodriguez Ferreira; David Shirk
Date Published
June 2011
38 pages
This third in a series of studies of Mexico's judicial sector reports on the findings of a survey of 276 Mexican judges, prosecutors, and public defenders in 9 Mexican states, which was conducted between October and Decembers 2010, with attention to respondents' attitudes toward the functioning of the Mexican criminal justice system and the 2008 reforms that are to be implemented throughout the country over the next few years.
The survey found that respondents' frustration with their workload varied by state and profession. All three professional groups were generally satisfied with their compensation levels; however, as with workload, frustration with salary varied by state. A second finding is that general support among the three groups is strong, with more than half of the respondents indicating that Mexico's traditional inquisitorial system is both efficient and effective. At least one-third of the respondents believed that the tradition criminal justice system was being disparaged by a deliberate, negative campaign designed to promote a shift to the adversarial system. Public defenders were the most critical of the traditional system than the other professions. Judges and prosecutors tended to believe that violation of due process rarely or never occurred; prosecutors were more likely to "strongly disagree" with this view. There was significant skepticism among respondents about recent judicial reforms, particularly among those respondents who are currently attempting to work within the new oral, adversarial system. Respondents were split on whether judicial reform will reduce criminality; and a significant proportion believed that the reforms resulted from pressure by foreign governments and organizations. Still, respondents expressed hope that recent reforms will improve the justice system. Although there are significant reservations about reform efforts that have already been in place for some time, many respondents were optimistic that they will ultimately improve efficiency and reduce corruption in the judicial system. 2 tables, 11 figures, and extensive notes