In This Review

Reforming the Administration of Justice in Mexico
Reforming the Administration of Justice in Mexico
By Wayne A. Cornelius and David A. Shirk
University of Notre Dame Press, 2007, 536 pp

The Fox administration made some progress toward reform of the judiciary and the police, but public insecurity remains a top worry among Mexican citizens, and way too many crime cases are "solved" through forced confessions. Without overplaying the dangers, the sobering Cornelius and Shirk volume argues that reform of the criminal justice systems in Mexico and throughout Latin America is a delayed but vital step in the consolidation of democracy and the rule of law there. The book's 21 chapters consider the many interrelated political, institutional, and technical legal issues: the potential role of bar associations in regulating professional responsibility, procedural innovations such as oral trial proceedings, data enhancements for more efficient policing and better-informed civilian oversight, and the dangers of ordering the military into police work. Drawing on international experiences, a strong chapter by Robert Varenik, of the Open Society Justice Initiative, recommends a balance between rights and security, even as Mario Arroyo Juárez expresses skepticism in another chapter that former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's "zero tolerance" strategy can be successfully applied to Mexico City. Overall, the volume's contributors are hopeful that the myriad problems can be resolved gradually over the longer term through careful consensus building and creative leadership.