|3 Chief Deputies Combine to Contribute Star Power to Alliance Partnership Training
Prosecutors from the states of Durango, Chihuahua, Zacatecas and Baja California recently had the unforgettable experience of participating in an Oral Advocacy for Prosecutors course in Mexico City, made all the more remarkable by the participation of the Chief Deputy Attorneys General from the states of Utah, New Mexico and Maryland.
Kirk Torgensen, Al Lama and Kay Winfree lectured on the basics of oral trial advocacy, and worked in small groups with participants as they practiced their skills. The unusual convergence of high-powered prosecutors as instructors also included Yavapai (Arizona) County Prosecutor Sheila Polk (featured in this article in the Camp Verde Bugle), and prosecutors from Pinal (Arizona) County, the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys' Advisory Council, the Utah Attorney General's Office and the Cook (Illinois) County State's Attorney's Office.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris Joined by Marisela Morales Ibáñez, Attorney General of Mexico, and U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis at Human Trafficking Leadership Symposium
Harris Unveils Report Detailing Human Trafficking Trends in California and Law Enforcement Responses
On November 16, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris released The State of Human Trafficking in California 2012. The report outlines the growing prevalence of the crime of human trafficking in the state, the increasing involvement of sophisticated transnational gangs in perpetrating the crime and the modern technologies that traffickers use to facilitate it.
Attorney General Harris released the report at the Human Trafficking Leadership Symposium, hosted by the University of Southern California in partnership with Humanity United. Leaders from law enforcement, victim service groups, non-government organizations and other groups convened to discuss the report and consider best practices in the fight against forced labor and sex trafficking. U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and Mexico Attorney General Marisela Morales Ibáñez provided keynote remarks at the symposium.
Releasing the report on the current state of human trafficking is one of the steps Attorney General Harris has taken to combat the crime. Previously, Attorney General Harris and Mexico Attorney General Marisela Morales Ibáñez signed an accord to help expand prosecutions and secure convictions of criminals who engage in the trafficking of human beings.
Mexican Attorney General Marisela Morales Ibáñez said her country had approved new laws after years of being lax on human trafficking regulation. Mexican authorities have also been cooperating with their counterparts in California on the problem of human trafficking. Special Prosecutor for Crimes of Violence Against Women and Human Trafficking, Nelly Montealegre Díaz, discussed Mexico's shelter system and victims' assistance programs.
Secretary of Labor Solis wished that Congress would overcome its partisan divide, saying, "Right now it's time for Congress to renew the sex trafficking act." The bill has been in committee since 2011.
Human trafficking involves the recruitment, smuggling, transporting, harboring, buying, or selling of a person for purposes of exploitation, prostitution, domestic servitude, sweatshop labor, migrant work, agricultural labor, peonage, bondage or involuntary servitude. Human trafficking strips people, especially women and children, of their freedom and violates our nation's promise that every person in the United States is guaranteed basic human rights.
"I Told You So"
Hearsay in Mexico's New Justice System
A U.S. Prosecutor's Perspective, by Frank Collins
I sit in a Mexican courtroom watching an oral trial in the new system. It's a murder case. Three judges sit with solemn authority, all of which have never presided over this case before, as required by Mexican procedure (for you U. S. readers, there are no juries in Mexico's new system). The first prosecution witness is called. It's a woman, about 40 years old. The chief judge swears her in. The prosecutor begins his direct examination. He begins with some standard background questions, nothing unusual.
Then come the questions related to the case. The witness's first answer starts with, "My son told me..." I look to the defense awaiting a hearsay objection. He doesn't even look up. Not good, I think, he should pay more attention. The next answer begins with "My son told me..." Again, no objection. In fact, the witnesses testified for at least half an hour and nearly every answer began the same. It was clear that this witness saw nothing and was never even at the crime scene. Never once was there an objection. No one, including the three judges, seemed to care (except perhaps me).
I realized that either these folks don't know hearsay isn't good evidence or ... the horror ... the hearsay simply wasn't prohibited.
Afterwards, I spoke to the defense attorney and the prosecutors. The defense attorney said he objected before trial, but it was overruled. The prosecutors told me hearsay is admissible; that the judges can determine its weight. They also told me that they had her son, and he would also testify at trial to what he told his mother. The mother's testimony goes to her son's credibility.
So I ask myself: Should hearsay be prohibited in Mexico's new criminal justice system? My legal education-or perhaps my indoctrination-tells me there are a number of reasons to exclude it:
It's not subject to cross-examination, because the person who actually made the statement is not there. The judge can't observe that person's demeanor to see if he's lying or confused. In most cases, the original statement was not made in court under oath, with no legal obligation to tell the truth. So how can a judge determine whether the original witness was being honest?
But, in the trial I was observing, the prosecution was going to call the son, the one who actually made the statements. Doesn't that solve the problems above? The actual witness is now under oath, subject to cross and the judge can observe his demeanor. Plus, these are legally educated judges, not hearsay-susceptible juries. Problem solved, right?
Not completely. There are other concerns. Judges are not legal robots, they are human. What is a judge to do when the mother's story and the son's story are different, albeit subtly? What if the mother seems dishonest, but the son testifies well? What if the mother mentions something important that the son does not? Can the judge unring that bell in his mind? Might not a witness, to boost his credibility, gather up some friends and family to testify that, "Sure, that's exactly what he told me before!" How could you ever stop this sort of deception?
If we are so confident that judges can sort through good and bad evidence, why exclude any evidence at all? Just let the judges see everything and render their decision.
The truth is, there is no clear answer to these questions. The hearsay rule in the United States, along with its dizzying array of exceptions, has its drawbacks. The absence of a jury in the Mexican system further clouds this issue. Despite my ingrained aversion to hearsay, today I am not ready to disagree with the use I saw at that trial. Maybe I never will.
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CWAG Alliance Partnership Programs
The CWAG Alliance Partnership facilitates collaboration between U.S. and Mexican state Attorneys General's Offices. Available services include:
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2013 Training Schedule
Oral Advocacy Skills for Prosecutors
- January 14-18: Live Training in San Diego with Mixed Model Distance Learning in San Luis Potosí
- February 12-14: Live Train-the-Trainer course in Anaheim, California
- February 26-28: Mixed Model Distance Learning Broadcast from Phoenix, Arizona, to Durango, Mexico
- March 11-15: Live Training in Mexico City, Mexico, with Mixed Model Distance Learning in Baja California, Mexico
- April 9-11: Mixed Model Distance Learning Broadcast from Denver, Colorado, to Zacatecas, Mexico
- April 22-26: Live Training in Salt Lake City, Utah, with Mixed Model Distance Learning in Sonora, Mexico
- May 14-16: Mixed Model Distance Learning Broadcast to San Luis Potosí, Mexico
- June 10-14: Live Training in Mexico City, Mexico, with Mixed Model Distance Learning in Chihuahua, Mexico
- June 24-28: Live Training in Boise, Idaho, with Mixed Model Distance Learning in Baja California Sur, Mexico
*Schedule subject to change. Contact us for the latest schedule.
Congratulations to the Attorney General of the State of Campeche, awarded the "Mirabal Sisters 2012" Award
Mexico City Human Rights Commission (CDHDF) Ombudsman Luis Gonzalez Placencia presented the "Mirabal Sisters 2012" award, a Compendium of Best Practices on violence against women, noting that this is a call to those who develop these successes to protect the rights of women, now and in the medium and long terms, to consolidate them.
The CDHDF explained that its role is to publicize the best practices that are having daily successes, "we shine a light on these efforts by incorporating them into this compendium, building and strengthening it; the challenge is to publicize it, to advertise that these resources can be replicated."
He cited the case of the Attorney General of Campeche called "Campeche, protective orders," as a practice that should be recognized by all Attorneys General's Offices in the country, that they may institute their own mechanisms to have these institutional resources.
Upon receiving the recognition in the category of Provision of resources and services for women victims of gender violence, the Attorney General of Campeche, Renato Sales Heredia, said he considered it necessary to fundamentally change the way the problem of gender violence is addressed. "Because there is little point having resolutions, laws, treaties, in the absence of regulation and the will to enforce them."
He explained that in Campeche they have tried, through protection orders, to reduce the gap between reality and regulations, by giving the Prosecutor on call the power to issue such orders of protection.
|CWAG Instructor Named in Chicago's Top 40 under Forty |
The CWAG Alliance Partnership team would like to congratulate one of our outstanding instructors, Claudia Castro, who was honored as one of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin's 40 Under Forty 2012.
Ms. Castro is an Assistant State's Attorney at the Cook County State's Attorney's Office in the Community Justice unit, where she prosecutes cases that concern the local community. In addition, she helps initiate crime prevention and problem solving programs and education outreach efforts. Castro has participated as an instructor for the Alliance Partnership since May 2011, in various programs including Train-the-Trainer and Oral Advocacy Skills training in Mexico and the United States.
WWC: Judicial Reform in Mexico
Alliance Partnership member the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will host "Judicial Reform in Mexico: Why it is Needed and Where Things Stand," on December 4, 2012. The conference will feature scholars and specialists from the U.S. and Mexico, and will include keynote addresses by Catherine Cortez Masto, Attorney General of Nevada, and Rommel Moreno Manjarrez, Attorney General of Baja California, Mexico.
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Ágora Magazine is published by the US Northern Command, the Department of Defense's unified homeland security command. Their area of operations includes all of North America, and as part of their outreach, they publish the magazine in English and Spanish to highlight topics of interest to Mexican government and law enforcement.
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This material was funded by a grant from the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the author[s] and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.