San Diego International Law Journal


Connie Dang

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



[T]his Comment begins with a brief history of Mexico’s political framework, including an introduction to its civil law tradition, the positivist values present in its legal framework, and the previous criminal procedure reforms that took place before the current 2008 constitutional reforms. It is important to understand the challenges that the previous—and unsuccessful—constitutional reforms faced in order to appreciate the drastic scope of the current changes to Mexican criminal procedure. Part II will address the role of the United States in its relationship with Mexico relationship during the implementation of the 2008 constitutional reforms. As Mexico’s direct neighbor, the United States is in the unique position of being particularly invested in the implementation of any changes to the Mexican legal system. While the current Mexican reforms only address criminal proceedings, it is likely that the United States would be similarly invested in reforming civil proceedings in light of increased trade and business dealings between the two countries. The United States’ own adversarial system, so prominently displayed in American criminal procedure, will also inevitably influence the new Mexican adversarial system due to the proximity and involvement between the two countries. Consequently, the United States plays a significant role in facilitating the reforms by funding and actively assisting with the continuing education and training of Mexican citizens and legal personnel during this transition. Part III will compare the pre-reform inefficiencies within Mexico’s criminal procedure under the inquisitorial system with the goals of the 2008 constitutional reforms and introduce how the reforms simultaneously address the inefficiencies and goals with the implementation of new safeguards. Notably, although one of the goals of the reform is to ensure justice and protect a criminal defendant’s basic human rights as mandated by international standards, the reforms expressly take away the rights of those criminal defendants accused of participation in organized crime. Part IV will propose the implementation of a separately written code of evidence as an additional safeguard within the scope of the reforms. The Codes of Criminal Procedure of several Mexican states already embody many evidentiary principles that are similar to those codified in the United States Federal Rules of Evidence, but these principles are not uniform across the codes of different states. This section proposes that the Mexican government formally codify its rules of evidence outside the code of criminal procedure as a procedural safeguard during evidentiary determinations to protect the criminally accused from arbitrary or inconsistent evidentiary standards. This section also explores how formally codified rules of evidence may evolve either under Mexico’s positivist legal framework or under the indirect influence of the United States. Part V contains a comparative analysis of Mexico’s transition to an adversarial system to that of Chile, another Latin American country that successfully transitioned from an inquisitorial system despite a similar civil law framework. Like Mexico, one of the primary goals of Chile’s reform was to prevent human rights violations in its criminal proceedings. However, Chile’s reform is considered successful even though it did not formalize its rules of evidence. Thus, this section will examine the similarities and differences between the countries that led to their reforms, while taking into consideration that a comparable country that successfully transitioned to an adversarial system nevertheless fulfilled the goals of its reform without formally codifying its rules of evidence.