May 01, 2013

Training Helps Lawyers Transition to an Accusatorial Criminal Justice System

May 2013

María de los Ángeles Moreno and José Bolivar are partners in every sense of the word. Not only do the Mexican lawyers work alongside one another at the law firm they founded 20 years ago in the state of Chihuahua, but they are also married. Since 2007, they have practiced under the accusatorial criminal justice system, when it was implemented in the state of Chihuahua. Yet, María and José—like many of their colleagues—have had no continuing legal education opportunities to help them adjust to the transition from the inquisitorial system. Both say that the absence of training opportunities stifled their professional development. Maria said that the very few training opportunities available in Chihuahua “are really expensive and we don’t have the money to afford these kinds of courses.”

María de los Ángeles and her husband, José Bolivar were among 63 lawyers and law professors who took part in the three-day training on representing clients effectively under the accusatorial system.

To support the transition, in February, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) held the first of a series of workshops in Chihuahua on the new system. María and José were among the 63 lawyers and law professors who took part in the three-day training. The training helps to equip participants with those skills needed to represent clients effectively under the accusatorial system. It covered several pre-trial and litigation-related issues, including investigation, pre-trial hearings, opening statements, witness examination and closing argument. Sessions also addressed alternative dispute resolution, human rights and constitutional protections.

María and José praise the training. José said, “With the knowledge [I] acquired, I will be able to deliver high quality work and accomplish the goals I set for each case.” Maria agrees. “What I learned in this workshop will help me improve the advice I provide to my clients,” she said. “One of the duties of lawyers is to be constantly up-to-date on any developments. It is our responsibility.”

The accusatorial system will be implemented throughout Mexico by 2016, and ABA ROLI will continue to offer more trainings for the country’s lawyers. The trainings are supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

To learn more about our work in Mexico, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.