Brown Lends Hand In Mexico's Transformation of Its Legal System

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SAN DIEGO – Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced today that members of his office are working with law enforcement officials from Baja California as part of sweeping changes the Mexican government is making to its legal system.

“We will help our southern neighbor become more transparent and open,” Brown said.

Starting today, 80 prosecutors and agents from the Mexican state of Baja California will attend two days of classes at the Law Enforcement Coordination Center in El Centro (Imperial County). Agents with the California Attorney General’s Office, joined by officials from the Imperial County District Attorney’s Office, as well as from the Imperial County Sheriff’s Department, will teach sessions on topics such as case preparation and the handling of evidence.

The centuries-old Mexican legal system, which stems from the Napoleonic era, involves closed hearings, written inquisitions and a presumption of guilt. In 2008, the Mexican government approved a constitutional amendment to replace much of its system to make it more like the legal system of the United States. The transformation, which will alter both how evidence is collected and how trials are conducted, is expected to be complete by 2016.

Rommel Moreno, the Attorney General of Baja California, asked Attorney General Brown for assistance as Baja California joins 30 other Mexican states to change its system. The U.S. federal government, along with law enforcement agencies around the country, is also assisting Mexico with the transition.

“After these changes are complete, Mexico’s legal system will be more transparent and open, which will improve the strength of the country’s democracy,” said Brown. “We will help our southern neighbor in this transition.”

This week’s training of Baja California officials is being coordinated by the Attorney General’s foreign prosecution and law enforcement unit, a part of the Division of Law Enforcement’s Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence. The unit works with Mexican officials in apprehending suspects in the United States who are wanted for crimes in Mexico, as well as enlisting the help of Mexican officials in solving crimes in California.

In December 2009, the unit assisted Mexican officials in apprehending and extraditing Sandra Cruz Villa, who was living in Lake County and was suspected of a triple murder. She awaits trial in Mexico. For more information about the unit, please see http://ag.ca.gov/cbi/foreign.php.

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