Crossing the Border for Criminal Justice

State eNews Issue #39 | February 3, 2010

Justice issues cross the border all the time.

The International Conference on Criminal Justice convened Jan. 25 in anticipation of Baja California’s impending implementation of phased judicial reforms this spring in several of the Mexican state’s major cities. These reforms include the transition from a written, inquisitorial system of justice to an adversarial process that will incorporate, among other things, oral trials to a three-judge panel and alternative means of conflict resolution in criminal proceedings. 

It’s a huge move for the Mexican state, and the conference gave officials there an opportunity to hear perspectives on the adversarial process of justice used in the U.S. Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and New Mexico Attorney General Gary King, along with staff of the Conference of Western Attorneys General and The Council of State Governments–WEST, were at the conference in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico, to offer insights. Wasden and King shared their perspectives and experiences regarding the adversarial system of justice in the U.S.

The adversarial system of criminal trial courts in the U.S. provides two sides to the argument—the prosecution and the defense.

The conference was organized by Baja California Attorney General Rommel Moreno Manjarrez.

As part of the U.S.-Mexico State Alliance Partnership, the Conference of Western Attorneys General and CSG-WEST facilitate binational exchanges among state attorneys general from both countries to discuss issues of common interest, such as combating organized crime, human trafficking, and drug and weapons trafficking. The Alliance Partnership, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, also provides capacity and technical training to prosecutors and investigators of the Mexican state attorney general’s offices.

For more information about the U.S.-Mexico State Alliance Partnership, or the International Conference on Criminal Justice, go to, or contact Karen White, executive director of the Conference of Western Attorneys General at (916) 323-1992 or Edgar Ruiz, deputy director of CSG-WEST, at (916) 553-4423.