“Winning for us was the result of an immense amount of work, dedication, discipline, perseverance and love for what we do. We are deeply grateful for this initiative that has opened many doors for us.” - Carolina Orozco, team captain of ABA ROLI’s winning team from the University of Guanajuato for its 7th Annual National Mock Trial Competition in Mexico
From September 29 to October 3, ABA ROLI hosted its 7th Annual National Mock Trial Competition in Mexico— the largest Mock Trial Competition in the Western Hemisphere— with this year’s winning team hailing from the University of Guanajuato. The champion team consisted of four members including: Carolina Orozco, Daniel Murillo, Alejandro Becerra and Benjamin Valtierra, and their advisor Jorge Ramírez. ABA ROLI’s Mexico team, alongside national experts in the criminal justice system, designed complex cases for the three phases of the competition, which were all held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This allowed the participants an opportunity to design litigation strategies and theories of the case for complex crimes and try these cases as mock prosecutors and defense attorneys. In 2020, ABA ROLI engaged 193 teams from 93 law schools from across 23 states of Mexico. The top sixteen teams participated in the final round of the competition from September 29 to October 3, 2020.
Since 2013, ABA ROLI has supported Mexico’s transition from an inquisitorial, written-based system to an accusatorial system through our program, New Advocates for Mexican Justice, funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. This program started with the intention of supporting the New Criminal Justice System (NCJS), which was the result of a constitutional reform in Mexico that shifted from a written-based criminal justice system towards an orality-based accusatorial system. Since the project’s inception, ABA ROLI has reached more than 6,000 law students representing all thirty-two Mexican states, 935 law school professors, and 237 law schools through technical skills training sessions and the administration of nationwide mock trial and mediation competitions.
ABA ROLI Mexico continues to host the largest annual National Mock Trial Competition in Mexico. Through the pedagogical design of the mock trial competition and the technical expertise of the law schools involved, participating students are able to develop their litigation, mediation, and restorative justice skills to be later applied at the public institution level — those in charge of the Mexican criminal justice system. Since these competitions are among the most prestigious of their kind in the country, many former competition participants have successfully secured work in state government agencies involved in the criminal justice system.
Fifteen of eighteen former national champions, representing the states of Guanajuato, Morelos, Oaxaca, Mérida and Chihuahua, have currently focused their professional careers on the criminal justice system, working as state prosecutors, female victim advisors, members of the federal public defender's office and in law firms specialized in criminal matters. For example, in a previous blog post (see: From Moot Court to Real Court: A National Competition Champion Combats Police Brutality in Oaxaca) we describe the current work of Gabriel O. Lucas, a 2017 champion. Many of these champions continue to participate in ABA ROLI’s competitions as expert judges and trainers. Marcela Lopez, one of our former champions, is now the Program Officer for Oral Litigation in our Mexico office at ABA ROLI. In her role, Marcela designs, coordinates and hosts the competitions.
As part of ABA ROLI México's commitment to provide equal opportunity for all its participants, ABA ROLI México designed and provided training to the competition evaluators and participating teams on reasonable adjustments to the procedures, which are designed to guarantee equal opportunity and conditions for all participants. Additionally, the ABA ROLI Mexico team translated the case study materials from the regional rounds into Braille and sent it to one of the members of the winning team who is visually impaired.
Just like former national champions, this year’s winners want to focus their professional careers at the service of Mexican criminal justice. Carolina, Daniel, and Benjamin aspire to become agents of the Public Ministry while Alejandro aspires to become Public Defender. Jorge Ramírez, a former participant and national champion of the Mock Trial Competition hosted by our colleagues California Western School of Law is currently working in Guanajuato State Attorney´s Office.
Learn more about our work in Latin America and the Caribbean.