Mexico recently published a major constitutional amendment to its Federal Court System. To implement the new rules, Mexico´s President sent a Bill to the Senate amending the Federal Court System’s Organic Statute and the Law of Judicial Careers in the Federal Court System.
The Bill has many important features, including strengthening disciplinary proceedings filed against collegiate court and district judges, combating nepotism (which is a concern for judges, attorneys, and the general public), and a process for monitoring changes in the financial condition of public servants working in the Federal Court System. Beyond these administrative measures, the substantive elements of the Bill are so noteworthy that the Eleventh Volume of the Federal Judiciary Weekly Journal will be issued this month.
The creation of binding judicial precedents is another important feature of the Bill. Currently, several different courts must rule in the same manner to create binding judicial precedents which can be relied upon by other Mexican judges in their own rulings. The current requirement is that five consecutive cases must be ruled upon using the same legal reasoning, without interruption from conflicting judgments issued by other courts. This requirement will be eliminated. Going forward, the Justices of Mexico´s Supreme Court will create binding judicial precedents when issuing their judgments, without the need for additional similar or complementary rulings. A judgment by a majority of eight Justices in Full Session and four in the Chambers of the Supreme Court will be sufficient to create binding judicial precedents to be followed by all Mexican judicial authorities.
Unfortunately, these reforms, along with other amendments such as the elimination of all Unitary Circuit Courts and the establishment of binding Supreme Court precedents applicable to all Mexican courts, have been overshadowed by a transitional article proposing a two year extension of the term of the Court´s Chief Justice and of the Presiding Judge of the Federal Judicial Council. Notably, such extension was not included in the presidential Bill, but was later added by the Senate. This change is contrary to the Mexican Constitution, which establishes that “Every four years, the Supreme Court sitting in Full Session will designate from among its members, the Chief Justice of the National Supreme Court of Justice, who cannot be reelected for an immediately succeeding term.” If ratified by the lower house of the Mexican Congress, the Chamber of Representatives, it is likely the matter will reach the Supreme Court for a determination of its constitutional validity. This matter will remain in the national spotlight for several months.