National Association of Attorneys General

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Attorneys General Train Mexican Prosecutors

Nick Alexander, Criminal Law Counsel

The National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute (NAGTRI) trained 26 Mexican prosecutors in Austin, Texas the week of March 30 as Mexico’s judicial system transitions from written proceedings to an oral adversarial system. Assistant Attorneys General from California, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Texas and Utah served as bilingual faculty members, teaching all sessions in Spanish.

This was the second training with a goal of training up to 600 Mexican prosecutors over the next three years. The first training, with 13 Mexican prosecutors, occurred in February in Colorado.

“Ultimately, these efforts should help Mexico lock up more criminals, reduce systemic corruption and ease the pressures that are contributing to the shocking outbreak of violence,” said Patrick Lynch, NAAG President and Rhode Island Attorney General.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott opened the Austin training with remarks regarding cooperative efforts between the United States and Mexico generally, and the Texas Attorney General Office and Mexican Attorney General Office more specifically. “As representatives of the governments in our respective countries, justice is our end, our ultimate goal. With our collaborative work this week, we will all be better equipped to reach that goal,” Abbott said.

Prosecutors traveled from the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Oaxaca and Baja to attend the week-long Austin training. A full agenda consisted of both lectures and practical exercises on topics such as opening and closing arguments, direct and cross examination, plea negotiations, rules of evidence and ethics.

The NAGTRI Mexican prosecutor training was created in conjunction with the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) and made possible with $1.5 million in funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“The training for Mexico’s prosecutors is an important element in the U.S. - Mexico State Alliance Partnership, which was initiated to improve cross border cooperation in law enforcement matters,” said Idaho Attorney General and former NAAG President and CWAG Chair Lawrence Wasden. “There are people in government in Mexico who are putting their lives on the line every day, in order to establish justice. In working with my colleagues in Mexico, it has become apparent that there is a strong desire for transparency and predictability through reforms to their legal system. I am hopeful that these reforms will result in increased stability and cooperation among us all.”

The changes in Mexico’s judicial system, which are occurring over seven years, are the result of a constitutional amendment approved last summer by all 31 states in Mexico and the federal district of Mexico City. Reforms include the presumption of innocence, confrontation of witnesses and speedy trial rights.

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