# 12 Envisioning Justice in Latin America

01 de enero 2010

O ver the three years that the Due Process of Law Foundation has published a Spanish language quarterly newsletter on justice issues in Latin America, we have received a number of requests for an English version. While our organization is not able, at the present time, to publish the newsletter in the two languages, we figured we could do the next best thing: issue one English language edition of AportesDPLF that would provide an overview of the type of articles that have appeared in the newsletter over the years. On a regular basis, AportesDPLF, includes articles that address such issues as judicial transparency and accountability and analyses of how various systems have, or could, put such principles into practice, both on a national as well as a (regional) comparative level, issues regarding access to justice in the region, international justice, and certain specific developments within the judicial sector in countries in the Western Hemisphere, all written by prominent experts in these fields.

Thus, in this our first English issue of AportesDPLF we have included an article about the role of the judge in a democratic society written by Luis Paulino Mora, President of the Supreme Court of Costa Rica. This piece is followed by two articles on the right to access to judicial information that were commissioned by the Open Society Justice Initiative. Molly Moore, of Ropes & Gray LLP, a leading global law firm with a strong commitment to public service, shares the results of a study completed by her firm, in which the practices of access to judicial information in 15 countries and the European Union are compared. Also offering a perspective is David Schulz, professor of law at Columbia University and partner in Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz LLP, a renowned firm based in New York City specializing in media law, First Amendment and intellectual property litigation, addresses the right of access to judicial information and sets out the source and scope of this principle under American constitutional and common law.

In 2009 AportesDPLF focused special attention on countries that have recently implemented constitutional changes that affect the judicial system; Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. As an example of the articles that appeared in these issues, we have included one that addressed the changes taking place in Bolivia. Eduardo Rodríguez, former President of Bolivia and former President of the Bolivian Supreme Court, provides a clear and concise overview of the implications of these changes for the Judiciary. Because an important new figure in Bolivia’s constitution is the election of the highest judicial authorities by popular vote, we invited two American academics to share how the practice of voting for judges works in the United States. Anthony Champagne is a professor of law at the University of Texas at Dallas, who provides an overview of the different types of elections in various states and discusses the pros and cons of these practices. He is followed by Robert Alsdorf, professor of law at Seattle University and a former judge, who shares his personal experiences of running in these elections.

AportesDPLF has also addressed the important issue of pre-trial detention in Latin America. Denise Tomasini-Joshi of the Open Society Justice Initiative, shares the alarming results of an investigation performed by her institution in Chile, Argentina and Mexico that calculates the real costs and consequences of pre-trial detention in Latin America. On a slightly more positive note, Diego Zalamea, an Ecuadorian expert in judicial systems, discusses the criminal procedure reform that has taken place in Ecuador and its implications for pre-trial detention in that country. He provides an interesting example of the reduction of pre-trial detention in the city of Cuenca, as a result of these reforms.

We hope that this first ever English edition of AportesDPLF responds in some way to those requests we have received over the years, and we hope to be able to do more in the near future. We welcome your comments and observations.