The opening of the new court complex in Chapala ties in to a 2008 amendment to Mexico’s constitution, mandating the country’s transition from an inquisitorial criminal justice system to the adversarial legal system familiar to citizens of the United States, Canada and Great Britain.
Jalisco is one of the states that has been slowest to make adjustments for the overhaul of the penal justice paradigm. But with a deadline looming four months ahead, things are finally in full motion.
Standing out among the most radical changes is a switch from the traditional trial model, in which judges and prosecutors work closely together to build cases against defendants, to oral trials where judges act as impartial referees between defense and prosecution attorneys arguing opposing views in public hearings.
Lawyers for the parties involved present evidence before the court, with opportunities to examine and cross-examine evidence and witnesses. The judge then weighs the merits of their respective arguments to come to a decision. Jury trials are not contemplated under the reformed system.