Proyecto Diamante at the National Advocacy Center

Last week I participated in a program that is designed to dramatically change Mexico’s criminal justice system. It’s called “Proyecto Diamante,” and it is intended to bring oral trial advocacy to Mexico.

Proyecto Diamante, which was launched on February 7th, is an undertaking to train Mexico’s 2500 prosecutors and 6000 investigators in our American prosecutorial and investigative techniques. As U.S. Ambassador Anthony Wayne said, “Proyecto Diamante represents (Mexico’s) Attorney General Morale’s commitment to the transition from an inquisitorial justice system to a more accusatorial justice system.” To achieve this monumental paradigm shift from Mexico’s current system, which presumes the defendant guilty to something like ours is a breathtaking endeavor.

I served on the faculty of the Department of Justice’s Proyecto Diamante Faculty Development Course at the National Advocacy Center (pictured above), located in Columbia, South Carolina. Course attendees were bilingual Department of Justice trial lawyers. They were being trained to teach trial advocacy (specifically opening statement, direct examination, cross-examination and closing argument) in Mexico. Currently, a defendant in Mexico is subject to a “trial by file” system; the judge reads the statements in the file. The ultimate goal is to shift to an oral trial advocacy system.

Carlos Acosta and Michelle Lakomy orchestrated the course. Faculty members were Margaret Fent Bodman, Stacy de la Torre, Rex Gordon, Judge Robert Holdman, Kim Lindquist, Octavio Perez Nava, Bridget Healy Ryan, Janice Schryer, Judge Jill-Ellyn Straus, Patti Sudendorf, Kevin Sundwall, and John Tierney.

The attendees at the course were dedicated and enthusiastic. It was an honor to work with them and be a part of this monumental, historical endeavor.

This press release provides additional details about Proyecto Diamante.

View more pictures of the, Center, instructors and attendees here.