Mexico City, June 26, 2017 – Talented law students from two universities in Mexico compete this week in the Championship of Champions mock trial showdown at American University in Washington, D.C. Under the Mérida Initiative, the Department of State funds programs to develop oral advocacy skills amongst university professors and students through workshops and mock trial competitions.
Since 2014, these programs have been run in Mexico by two implementing partners, the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) and the California Western School of Law (CWSL). Each coordinates parallel mock trial competitions alongside workshops in oral litigation, and helps the teams from participating universities prepare for mock trial competitions. Following several rounds of regional competitions in Mexico, ABA ROLI and CWSL both host a national competition for the participating teams. The culmination of the annual program takes place in Washington, D.C., where the winners of each national competition square off in a grand finale. Following the “Championship of Champions” today at American University, the teams from Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua and Universidad Anáhuac Oaxaca will spend the week visiting institutions such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Supreme Court of United States, among others.
In 2017, nearly 400 law schools from across Mexico participated in the competitions and workshops, up from just over 200 in 2016. New additions to programming for law students under the Merida Initiative in 2017 also included a national mediation competition, job search coaching, and an intramural mock trial competition.
Participation in the program has opened up professional opportunities for law graduates in Mexico and given them the confidence to successfully prosecute and defend criminal cases under Mexico’s oral accusatorial criminal justice system, which was introduced in 2016. As the new generation of attorneys in Mexico, their expertise in this system will contribute to greater rule of law and justice in their country and enhance our bilateral work on legal matters going forward.
The Merida Initiative is a bilateral security cooperation agreement between Mexico and the United States. Through eight years of implementation, the Merida Initiative has led to greater cooperation between the United States and Mexico. It has provided tangible support to Mexico’s law enforcement and judicial institutions, helped to counteract the illegal trade in narcotics, and strengthened border security. To date, the Merida Initiative has delivered USD $1.6 billion in equipment, training, and capacity building assistance to the government of Mexico.