Justiciabarometro: Survey of Judges, Prosecutors, and Public Defenders in Nine Mexican States

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    The Justice in Mexico Project‘s survey of legal professionals’ views on the criminal justice system in nine Mexican states. Over 268 judges, prosecutors and public defenders were contacted for the survey, which sought their opinions on issues including corruption, the state of their profession, and the 2008 justice system reforms.

    An excerpt from the preface:

    Data on Mexican legal professions are scarce. While there are many widely available statistical indicators about crime, victimization, and public opinion on the rule of law in Mexico, there have been few systematic, quantitative efforts to gauge the current levels of professional development, working conditions, and attitudes of the primary operators of the Mexican justice system, namely police, prosecutors, public defenders, and judges. Due in part to this lack of knowledge on legal professionals, Mexico’s criminal justice system remains an enormous “black box” whose internal weaknesses are often readily recognized but difficult to quantify.

    In 2009, the Justice in Mexico Project, a multi-year research initiative coordinated by the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego (USD), launched a series of studies to evaluate the perceptions and professional development of actors in Mexico’s judicial sector. Working with an interdisciplinary, bi-national team of experts on Mexico’s justice sector, this series of studies — titled the Justiciabarometro, or “Justice Barometer” — consists of surveys, interviews, and policy research to examine the strengths, challenges, and resource needs of Mexican law enforcement agencies and judicial institutions, and the justice sector in general. The initial Justiciabarometro study consisted of amajor academic survey of municipal police in 2009, including 5,422 local law enforcement personnelin the six municipal governments that make up the Guadalajara metropolitan area. In 2010, a subsequent police study was conducted, involving more than 2,400 local police in the municipality of Ciudad Juarez, a city that has had a series of brutal homicides targeting women since the 1990s and severe levels of crime and violence since early 2008.

    From the key findings highlighted in the executive summary:

    New judicial reforms seen by some ineffective, a result of foreign influence, and unlikely to reduce crime. Respondents were split on the effectiveness and efficiency of Mexico’s traditional criminal justice system, on whether that system was deliberately discredited to make way for the 2008 judicial reform, on whether foreign interests were behind the new judicial system, and whether judicial reform will reduce criminality.

    Even so, new criminal procedures are generally well regarded, especially in states still awaiting reform. Still, the provisions included in the 2008 reforms — introducing oral, adversarial criminal procedures — were well regarded, particularly in states where they had not yet taken effect; the most significant reservations tended to register among respondents from states that had already adopted the reforms for some time. Many respondents are optimistic that it will improve efficiency and reduce corruption in the judicial system.

    Find the complete study here (pdf).

    The Justice in Mexico Project is funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Tinker Foundation, The Open Society Institute, and the contributions of individual donors to the Trans-Border Institute.

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