Posted: Mar 19, 2012 5:53 PM
Updated: Mar 19, 2012 6:32 PM
Mexico will soon change its legal system to a trial by witness, just like here in the U.S. A Valley prosecutor spent a week educating attorneys about the American system of law.
The legal system in a country plagued with corruption is about to change.
Cameron County special prosecutor Luis Saenz considers himself an agent of change. He spent the last week in Mexico helping attorneys and police officers reshape their court system.
In 2016, all trials in Mexico will be presided over by a three-judge panel. Testimony will now also be allowed in the courtroom. Right now, Mexico practices trials by document, meaning attorneys present evidence through documentation and judges make the final decisions.
"I see it going a long way, hopefully improving their system and lending some integrity to it because now live witnesses will come before a judge which we take for granted here, but over there it's unheard of so they are modernizing their system," says Saenz.
Saenz spoke to the group about the chain of custody. Saenz emphasized the importance of one agency collecting evidence for a case.
"Over there they have different layers of experts and different agencies that collect the evidence. It basically complicates the issue. I think at the end of the day they were pleased with out system because it's a lot simpler," says Saenz.
The Mexican government believes this will help clean up its legal system.
"As you know, corruption it's not only in the criminal justice system, but it's entrenched in their culture unfortunately, but if you are going to stop corruption, this is the only way to do it by opening their criminal justice system to the public," says Saenz.
Saenz says this is the first step in shutting down corruption in the Mexico court system. Saenz was invited by the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. embassy to take part in the program. He plans to return to Mexico in August for more teaching.