Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

News Release

Legal Reform in Latin America to be Explored at Southwestern Symposium January 03, 2008
Legal Reform in Latin America to be Explored at Southwestern Symposium

Southwestern will present a daylong symposium, Abandoning the Inquisitor: Latin America's Criminal Procedure Revolution, on January 25, 2008, to explore the latest history-making developments in the approach to criminal trials in Latin America.

Prior to 1991, almost all countries in Latin America used written trials in criminal cases where typically the same judge who supervised the (often secret) investigation would determine guilt, and often the judge would not even hear live testimony from witnesses but merely read another court official's summary of the case. Proceedings lacked firm deadlines, and in many jurisdictions over 90% of the prison population was awaiting judgment.

During the symposium, leading U.S. and Latin American legal experts will analyze the reforms achieved in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Venezuela, the ongoing debates in Mexico, the role of international organizations in the reform process, and recent trend toward European-style jury trials.

The program is being presented under the auspices of a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Higher Education for Development (HED) funded partnership between Southwestern  and the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, in collaboration with the American Bar Association Section of International Law, the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) and Texas Tech University School of Law. This Partnership for Advocacy Training is designed to support Mexican criminal procedure reform efforts through advocacy training in the United States and Mexico, as well as scholarships for seven Mexican law graduates to obtain LL.M. degrees at Southwestern with a focus on trial advocacy.

Among the prominent legal scholars, attorneys and judges serving as speakers will be: Hon. Rubén Beltrán, Consul General of Mexico in Los Angeles; Hon. José Ramón Cossío Díazof the Mexican Supreme Court; Rodger Garner, Mission Director, USAID, Mexico; Hon. Carlos Moreno of the California Supreme Court; and Laurence M. Rose, President, National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA). For a complete list of speakers, click here.

Articles written in coordination with the symposium will be published in the Southwestern Journal of Law and Trade in the Americas, which is produced annually to provide a scholarly forum on selected comparative, international and trade law issues. Copies of the issue will be sent to participants and will also be available for purchase. The law journal is one of the only student-edited, scholarly publications dedicated exclusively to exploring legal and trade issues in the Americas.

The symposium will take place from 8:45 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. in the historic Bullocks Wilshire Building on Southwestern's campus, 3050 Wilshire Boulevard. The cost is $75 for attorneys seeking 7.5 hours of CLE credit; $50 for Southwestern alumni; and $40 for those not seeking CLE credit. Registration information is available online. Parking is available on campus for $6. For a map and directions, click here.

Media interested in attending the symposium should contact Southwestern's Public Information Office.