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Bi-national symposium to launch dialogue between U.S. and Mexican judiciaries

Stephen G. Breyer, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and Mexican Supreme Court Minister Sergio Salvador Aguirre Anguiano, will open a three-day symposium at The University of Texas at Austin designed to initiate a binational dialogue on the judiciaries of the U.S. and Mexico. The opening event will be held at the John B. Connally Center at 6:30 p.m. (CST) on May 3.

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AUSTIN, Texas—Stephen G. Breyer, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and Mexican Supreme Court Minister Sergio Salvador Aguirre Anguiano, will open a three-day symposium at The University of Texas at Austin designed to initiate a binational dialogue on the judiciaries of the U.S. and Mexico. The opening event will be held at the John B. Connally Center at 6:30 p.m. (CST) on May 3.

During the rest of the symposium, more than 100 leading judges, scholars, legal practitioners, and media professionals from Mexico and the U.S. will engage in a series of panel discussions on the delicate balance between judicial independence and accountability. From this vantage point, participants will compare and contrast the two justice systems. They will consider such issues as whether or not judges should be elected or appointed, how alternative dispute resolution can be used to unclog court dockets and whether conditions for judgeships should be subject to nonpartisan peer review.

The objective of this unprecedented meeting is to deepen both countries’ understandings of the two justice systems, identify issues of common concern and devise concrete ways in which the judiciaries can work together to strengthen the rule of law and improve the administration of justice in both countries and along their shared border.

Symposium coordinator Reginald Todd of the LBJ School of Public Affairs said the meeting is partly an outgrowth of the recent presidential elections in the U.S. and Mexico. "The last round of presidential elections put the two countries’ judiciaries in the spotlight in very different ways," he said. "With new administrations in place on both sides of the border, the judges have a great opportunity to look at these differences and to work toward common solutions." Todd holds the LBJ School’s Distinguished Visiting Tom Slick Professorship of World Peace, the symposium’s primary sponsor.

The symposium is expected to result in the establishment of binational working groups to address common needs such as reforms in the selection, promotion and evaluation of judges, and common border issues such as immigration, transportation and illegal drug trafficking. The groups will report their findings at a follow-up conference next year in Mexico City.

The symposium marks the 25th anniversary of the Distinguished Visiting Tom Slick Professorship of World Peace at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. This year’s program is co-sponsored by the Latin American Legal Initiatives Council of the American Bar Association, the Center for Democracy, the U.S. Agency for International Development in collaboration with the Mexican Judicial Institute, the U.S. Federal Judicial Center, the Mexican Institute of Judicial Research and the World Bank.

Symposium highlights

Thursday (May 3) 6:30 p.m. Keynote addresses by Stephen G. Breyer, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and Mexican Supreme Court Minister Sergio Salvador Aguirre Anguiano

Panel discussions

Friday (May 4)
9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Balancing Judicial Independence and Accountability
Norma Shapiro, federal judge, U.S. District Court in Philadelphia; Jorge Mario Pardo Rebolledo, Magistrado Federal de Circuito, Mexico; Bea Ann Smith, state judge, Austin; Adriana Leticia Campuzano, Magistrade Federal de Circuito, Mexico, and others

11a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Courts and the Media
Marvin Aspen, chief judge of the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois; Alejandro Sosa Ortiz, Magistrado Federal de Circuito, Mexico; Gerardo Laveaga, editor, El Mundo del Abogado, Mexico; Arnold Garcia, editorials editor, Austin American-Statesman, and others

2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Concurrent Discussions:
–Judicial Careers: Selection, Promotion, Evaluation and Tenure
–Alternative Dispute Resolution

4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Concurrent Discussions:
–The Courts and Civil Society
–Judicial Education and Training

Saturday (May 5)
8:45 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Concurrent Discussions:
–Ethics and the Courts
–Judicial Budgeting and Court Administration

For additional information about scheduling and registration, contact Megan Scarborough at (512) 471-8954 or Anne Nicholas, American Bar Association, (202) 662-1092.