The Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) recently hosted its Forum on Oral Trials, in attracting close to 400 members of the legal profession from San Luis Potosí, Mexico, including personnel from the Attorney General’s office, the Public Defender’s office, law school students and faculty, bar associations, and private attorneys. Senior litigators from the U.S.
Among them were District Attorney John Haroldson from Benton County, Oregon, and Anthony Da Silva, Deputy Attorney General, California Department of Justice, made presentations during the event that also featured a mock oral trial. The event, which took place in mid May, is part of United States government’s support for Mexican public sector legal professionals and is funded under the U.S.- Mexico Mérida Initiative. The Forum was inaugurated by San Luis Potosí Attorney General Federico Garza Herrera.
Speaking immediately after the event, Robert Arce, from the U.S. Consulate General, Monterrey, noted:
“Oral trials will boost the efficiency, transparency, and accountability of the justice system. The legal and law enforcement professionals who came to this forum are committed to meeting their responsibilities under the new criminal justice system. The United States government is privileged to support Mexico’s historic transition to a new criminal justice system, and we were delighted to welcome senior litigators from the United States to share their knowledge and experiences with the audience here today.”
The United States government supports the consolidation of the accusatory system in Mexico through capacity building programs for federal and state judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, criminal investigators, forensics experts, and other members of the judiciary, as well as for university law students and professors.
Since 2008, under the Mérida Initiative, the Conference of Western Attorneys General has trained over 25,000 members of the legal and law enforcement communities in Mexico through study tours in countries operating under an accusatory system, seminars and forums. The Justice Department has trained over 15,000 justice sector operators in the fundamentals of the accusatorial system. Through other programs funded under the Mérida Initiative, the United States government is supporting the training of 1,600 police officers as First Responder Instructors, helping to equip courtrooms for oral trials, and assisting forensics labs to achieve international accreditation.
The United States is proud to work with Mexico to support a justice system the serves the needs and protects the rights of the Mexican people.