Justice in Mexico should be faster and fairer with the implementation of major changes to the judicial system in Mexico.
Enacted into law in 2008 with a deadline of June 18, 2016 for full implementation, the new system introduces several major process changes that will make Mexico’s judicial system more transparent and accountable and bring the country more in line with the U.S. and other developed nations.
The new system introduces two major changes.
First, it provides for oral hearings and trials, a major departure from the written hearings and trials that have been the practice for years under Mexico’s old judicial system. Use of oral arguments should bring more public scrutiny to cases that were previously held in private. Everything was done on paper and defendants rarely had a chance to see a judge.
The judicial changes effectively replace the centuries-old system that presumed guilt until proven innocent. Under the old system, people could easily pay to put someone in jail with no public hearings and no way for defendants to contest unjust incarceration. Under the new system, defendants will go through three separate hearings, all oral and public. Now, defense lawyers and prosecutors will plead their case before a judge or a panel of judges.
During the initial arraignment hearing a judge will decide whether or not the person’s detention was legal. An evidence hearing will follow the arraignment hearing and will be heard by a different judge who will decide what evidence can be presented at the final trial and what evidence is tainted and should be excluded. Finally, a third judge at a bench trial will decide whether or not the defendant is innocent based on evidence, testimonies and the law.
Separate judges for each step in the judicial process are expected to reduce corruption in the system.