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U.S. Supreme Court  trained over 157 judges from Latin America  - A.M. Costa Rica illustrative photo -

U.S. Supreme Court Justice trains Latin American judges

Published Monday, April 26, 2021

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Puerto Rico Supreme Court Chief Justice Maite Oronoz Rodríguez trained over 157 judges from Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Peru as part of a Department of Justice training program for the judiciaries of the Western Hemisphere.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, during the virtual event held at the Judicial Studies Institute, Justice Sotomayor discussed the role of the judge and judicial independence.

"She also stressed the importance of their contribution to the rule of law in the hemisphere and lauded them for their role in the transformation of Latin American justice," they added.

Chief Justice Rodríguez spoke about transparency, accountability and education as mechanisms to protect and strengthen judicial independence. "She also encouraged the judges to participate in education initiatives to promote a better understanding of the role of the courts and therefore increase public confidence in the judiciary".

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Puerto Rico Supreme Court Chief Justice Maite Oronoz Rodríguez trained over 157 Latin American judges.

The Judicial Studies Institute was launched in 2012 as a response to the wave of justice sector reforms in Latin America that saw many countries transition from an inquisitorial to an adversarial system of justice, with the support of Justice Sotomayor, and in partnership with organizations such as the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the Justice Department’s Office of Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT), according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

"Through Spanish instruction, practical exercises, and observations of courtroom proceedings, participating judges learned about evidentiary guidelines, the role of judges, and courtroom management in an adversarial justice system," they said in its statement.

Capacity building is critical to the region as there are significant differences between the two systems. For example, in an inquisitorial system, judges investigate charges and determine guilt through written deliberations behind closed doors. In an adversarial system, the judge acts as an impartial referee responsible for weighing evidence and guaranteeing the rights of both the victim and the accused in an open courtroom setting, added the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Judicial Studies Institute and its partners at the University of Puerto Rico and Inter-American University law schools have trained over 900 Latin American judges.

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