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August 01, 2015

ABA ROLI Hosts a Study Tour Delegation from Mexico

August 2015

A Mexican delegation, including a law professor, three law students and a representative from the Attorney General’s Office, conducted a week-long study tour to Washington, DC, in July. The tour incorporated a mock-trial competition, visits to various institutions and meetings with U.S. justice sector actors and ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) leadership.

The week-long study tour incorporated a mock-trial competition, visits to various institutions and meetings with U.S. justice sector actors and ABA ROLI leadership.

The seven-member delegation—a law professor and three students from the Universidad de Guanajuato and three senior staffers from the Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Penales (INACIPE), the National Criminal Sciences Institute of the Attorney General’s Office, accompanied by ABA ROLI’s program director and deputy program director in Mexico —were in Washington from July 13 to 17 as part of ABA ROLI’s program to promote an adversarial criminal justice system in Mexico. The Universidad de Guanajuato team secured the study tour by winning an ABA ROLI-organized national moot-court competition in Mexico, while the INACIPE representatives were in DC to share insights on the country’s criminal justice reform process.

The tour kicked off with a mock-trial competition between two teams from the Universidad de Guanajuato. The other team from the Universidad de Guanajuato had recently won a separate nationwide mock-trial competition organized by California Western University School of Law. In the mock criminal proceedings officiated by five judges—three from Puerto Rico and two from the District of Columbia Superior Court—the two teams displayed tremendous courtroom litigation skills, conducting openings statements, closing arguments and examination of witnesses. The Universidad de Guanajuato team which had won the ABA ROLI-led competition prevailed as champion of champions, winning an acquittal for the defense. “[The competition] represented hard work and dedication,” said Karla Castañeda, a member of the winning Universidad de Guanajuato team. “Overall, it was a tremendous learning experience.”

On the second day of the tour, the delegation met with representatives from the D.C. Bar Association, who gave a presentation on legal ethics in the U.S. and the role of bar associations in supporting and regulating the legal profession. The delegation also visited the Federal Bureau of Investigation and got an overview of the agency’s operations in investigating federal crimes. Additionally, the visiting team met with ABA ROLI Director Elizabeth Andersen to discuss ABA ROLI’s legal technical assistance in more than 50 countries around the world.

The next day, the Mexican delegation visited the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts for an overview of the country’s legal system—including the structure and composition of the federal judiciary—the U.S. Capitol, where delegation members saw U.S. legislators engaged in a vigorous floor debate and a vote. Study tour participants also visited a correctional treatment facility and observed as inmates—with help from Georgetown Law Center’s Street Law Program—prepared for their own upcoming mock-trial proceedings.

On Thursday, the visiting students toured the D.C. Superior Court, observing proceedings, including a murder trial, and asking questions of the participating judge, prosecutor and defense attorney. They also visited the U.S. Department of State’s headquarters, meeting with senior officials from the department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and its Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

The final day of the visit featured a tour of the U.S. Supreme Court, which gave the visitors an opportunity to learn about the court’s operations, including its oral argument proceedings, and to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the nation’s highest court. The delegation later visited the Drug Enforcement Administration, discussing drug enforcement operations domestically and internationally. The team concluded its tour with a visit to the Washington Monument.

The mock-trial competition and the study tour are part of ABA ROLI’s INL-funded program to support Mexico’s criminal justice reforms. ABA ROLI will hold another mock-trial competition this academic year. -

You can see photo slideshow from the competition here.

You can watch video of the mock-trial competition here.

To learn more about our work, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].