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Press Room

For Immediate Release: April 03, 2009

Attorneys General Trained Mexican Prosecutors This Week

Mexico’s Judicial System to Undergo Sweeping Change

Washington, DC---State Attorneys General completed the training of 26 Mexican prosecutors in Austin, Texas this week as Mexico’s judicial system changes to one similar to the U.S. courts. It is the second training in a series, with the goal of training up to 600 Mexican prosecutors over the next three years.

Over seven years, Mexico’s judicialsystem will move from closed, written proceedings to open criminal trials in which the oral adversarial system will be used. The changes are the result of a constitutional amendment approved last summer by all 31 states in Mexico and the federal district of Mexico City. Reforms include the presumption of innocence, confrontation of witnesses and speedy trial rights.

Coordinated through the National Attorneys General Training and Research Institute (NAGTRI), which is a part of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), and the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG), the trainings are being funded with $1.5 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development. The first training, with 13 Mexican prosecutors, occurred in February in Colorado.

“Ultimately, these efforts should help Mexico lock up more criminals, reduce systemic corruption and ease the pressures that are contributing to the shocking outbreak of violence,” said Patrick Lynch, NAAG President and Rhode Island Attorney General.

Austin training attendees--prosecutors from Chihuahua and Oaxaca--developed and enhanced their skills and techniques in evaluating, preparing and presenting a criminal prosecution. Covered topics included plea negotiations, ethics, and rules of evidence. They also practiced opening and closing arguments and direct and cross examinations.

"The training for Mexico’s prosecutors is an important element in the U.S. - Mexico State Alliance Partnership, which was initiated to improve cross border cooperation in law enforcement matters," said Idaho Attorney General and former NAAG President and CWAG Chair Lawrence Wasden. "There are people in government in Mexico who are putting their lives on the line every day, in order to establish justice. In working with my colleagues in Mexico, it has become apparent that there is a strong desire for transparency and predictability through reforms to their legal system. I am hopeful that these reforms will result in increased stability and cooperation among us all."

Future trainings will rotate in location and various state Attorneys General will host.

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The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), www.naag.org, was founded in 1907 to help Attorneys General fulfill the responsibilities of their office and to assist in the delivery of high quality legal services to the states and territorial jurisdictions.

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