We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Envisioning Reform

Improving Judicial Performance in Latin America

Linn Hammergren

Publication Year: 2007

Judicial reform became an important part of the agenda for development in Latin America early in the 1980s, when countries in the region started the process of democratization. Connections began to be made between judicial performance and market-based growth, and development specialists turned their attention to “second generation” institutional reforms. Although considerable progress has been made already in strengthening the judiciary and its supporting infrastructure (police, prosecutors, public defense counsel, the private bar, law schools, and the like), much remains to be done. Linn Hammergren’s book aims to turn the spotlight on the problems in the movement toward judicial reform in Latin America over the past two decades and to suggest ways to keep the movement on track toward achieving its multiple, though often conflicting, goals. After Part I’s overview of the reform movement’s history since the 1980s, Part II examines five approaches that have been taken to judicial reform, tracing their intellectual origins, historical and strategic development, the roles of local and international participants, and their relative success in producing positive change. Part III builds on this evaluation of the five partial approaches by offering a synthetic critique aimed at showing how to turn approaches into strategies, how to ensure they are based on experiential knowledge, and how to unite separate lines of action.

Published by: Penn State University Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (30.5 KB)
pp. iv


pdf iconDownload PDF (32.3 KB)
pp. v

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (24.9 KB)
pp. vii-9

This book is the product of twenty years of working on and thinking about judicial reform in Latin America and occasionally elsewhere. As the author, I owe an enormous debt to a list of individuals so long it would constitute a chapter in itself. They are the people who have taught me; worked with me and sometimes for me; shared their experiences and opinions; offered their data, documents, and written...

read more

Introduction: Twenty Years of Reforms and Not a Consensus in Sight

pdf iconDownload PDF (126.8 KB)
pp. 1-23

Judicial reform remains a growth industry in Latin American, for both practitioners and, increasingly, their critics. Nearly twenty years of experience in promoting change in the region’s judiciaries seems hardly to have tapped the potential or dampened the enthusiasm for arming new programs. Courts, which once regarded the reforms with utmost suspicion, now have become proponents in their own...

Part 1: Five Approaches to Judicial Reform

read more

1 Criminal Justice Reform: Human Rights, Crime Control, and Other Unlikely Bedfellows

pdf iconDownload PDF (140.1 KB)
pp. 27-54

Criminal justice was the target for the Wrst Latin American judicial reforms, and for many it remains the main act. Implementation of the reforms that began in the mid-1980s continues to this day. Their early emergence is explained by the conjunction of several factors. First was the longer-term interest among Latin American jurists in effecting a change to more accusatory...

read more

2 Judicial Modernization: Increasing the Efficiency and Efficacy of Court Actions

pdf iconDownload PDF (216.1 KB)
pp. 55-96

The discussion in this chapter focuses on two versions of judicial modernization strategy: that seeking modernization “for its own sake,” a frequent goal of judiciaries, and efforts to augment the efficiency and efficacy of court actions, largely through the rationalization of internal processes and the addition of modern technologies. A final note reviews a related strategic objective, improving the courts’...

read more

3 Developing a Professional, Institutionally Independent Judiciary

pdf iconDownload PDF (163.4 KB)
pp. 97-130

Judicial strengthening—commonly understood as the development of a technically proficient, professionally oriented, organizationally autonomous court system—might logically have been the first step in the reform process. Instead, it was displaced by the initial concerns about the quality of criminal justice and the donors’ emphasis on efficiency. As explained, participants...

read more

4 Access to Justice: Legal Assistance, Special Courts, Alternative Dispute Resolution, and Beyond

pdf iconDownload PDF (183.2 KB)
pp. 131-169

Access to justice holds an odd place in judicial reform programs. Logically, it could be the all-encompassing goal—that of ensuring that citizens share equally in the benefits of a well-functioning justice system. Theoretically, many of these benefits, like those provided by a public health, education, or security system, can be enjoyed by citizens who never receive direct attention...

read more

5 Strengthening the Judiciary's Role as a Check on Other Branches of Government

pdf iconDownload PDF (189.3 KB)
pp. 170-209

One frequent criticism of judicial reforms is that they are overly technical and insufficiently political. Though most often addressed to donor programs, the comment is equally applicable to many purely local efforts. The judiciary is no ordinary provider of public services. In Latin America it has long been considered a political power as well, a status assumed to influence...

Part 2: Problems and Remedies

read more

6 Judicial Reform as a Problem of Focus: Why the Parts Don't Add Up to a Coherent Whole

pdf iconDownload PDF (144.4 KB)
pp. 213-240

Judicial reform is a new discipline, but not so new that it escapes questions aboutits intellectual and practical value. In the past few years, external observers and long-term participants have begun a serious reexamination of its accomplishments on both dimensions. This process is not likely to end soon, especially regarding...

read more

7 Improving the Knowledge Base for Judicial Reform Programs

pdf iconDownload PDF (144.4 KB)
pp. 241-270

Despite a growing recognition of the importance of this undertaking, progress is best described as incipient, disjointed, and overly redundant.1 This chapter offers some practical recommendations for accelerating the process, focusing on how reform participants can improve the information used and generated by their individual... activities and convert it into a common

read more

8 Toward a New Strategic Model

pdf iconDownload PDF (166.6 KB)
pp. 271-305

This chapter was first drafted in Argentina in late-2003, a setting providing a number of cautionary lessons for would-be judicial reformers. The lessons derive from the fact that in the prior decade Argentina made notable strides in implementing many of the usual reform recommendations. This was done in a less concentrated and publicized fashion than has been customary in most countries. As a...

read more

9 A Political Agenda for Reforming the Reforms

pdf iconDownload PDF (93.5 KB)
pp. 306-320

The arguments developed in the preceding chapters emphasize the need for amore empirically based, strategic approach to judicial reform, one that coordinates the multitude of activities currently included in reform programs by defining and validating their linkages to longer-term objectives and aims. An improved strategic framework is more than an exercise in abstract theory...


pdf iconDownload PDF (134.5 KB)
pp. 321-339


pdf iconDownload PDF (115.9 KB)
pp. 340-352

Back Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF (915.2 KB)

E-ISBN-13: 9780271053035
E-ISBN-10: 0271053038
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271029337
Print-ISBN-10: 0271029331

Page Count: 360
Illustrations: 2 charts/graphs, 6 tables
Publication Year: 2007