Small Wars Journal

Mexico's Justiciabarometro (Justice Barometer)

The Trans-Border Institute has released the results of a new survey of judges, prosecutors, and public defenders in nine different Mexican states. The survey is part of a series of studies, titled the Justiciabarometro (Justice Barometer), which examines the performance of Mexico's criminal justice system through the assessments of those who operate it.

The results are summarized in two recent reports co-authored by Matthew C. Ingram, Octavio Rodrí­guez Ferreira, and David A. Shirk. The full report (135 pages, 14.1MB) can be found here and the special report (32 pages, 4.6 MB) can be found here.

Judges from nine states were included in the survey: Baja California, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nuevo Leon, Oaxaca, Yucatan, and Zacatecas. Of these, prosecutors and public defenders were included from selected states. The Justiciabarometro survey was conducted through the professional polling firm Data y Opinion Publica y Mercados (DATA-OPM), which made over 2,800 telephone calls made from October to December 2010 to the 1,098 sitting judges, prosecutors, and public defenders identified in all nine states, achieving an overall response rate of 276 completed interviews (22.4%).

The survey provides useful indicators for evaluating the performance of Mexico's criminal justice system and provides a baseline for benchmarking the future progress of the 2008 judicial reform, which introduces major changes to criminal procedure that have generated some concerns in the legal community. Among this study's findings, 36% of respondents asserted that there has been a deliberate campaign to discredit the country's traditional criminal justice system, and nearly 40% of respondents viewed the 2008 reform as the result of foreign pressure. Even so, more than 80% held generally positive views of the reform, and 76% preferred moving from Mexico's traditional system to new "oral trials." Only 47% of respondents believe that the reform will help to reduce criminality, but the vast majority believe that the reforms will speed up criminal proceedings (70%) and reduce corruption in the judicial sector (84%).