Unpacking the Mexican Federal Judiciary: An Inner Look at the Ethos of the Judicial Branch

Gabriel Ferreyra

Abstract

Based on 45 interviews conducted in 6 different jurisdictions in Mexico, this article presents a close examination of the distinctive attributes and practices that characterize the Mexican Federal Judiciary (Poder Judicial Federal). Interviewees included typists, clerks and court clerks, judges, and justices, as well as scholars and experts with an in-depth knowledge of this institution. From an insider perspective, the article sheds light on idiosyncrasies, customs, and organizational patterns that are not well known outside the MFJ, such as its strong hierarchical structure, the nature of the work done, employee salaries, the practices of legalism, the risks of drug-related trials, and structural gender inequalities. It also discusses phenomena like influence peddling, cronyism, and nepotism, all of which are widely practiced within the MFJ but kept undisclosed. These practices do not necessarily have a negative connotation within the federal judiciary because they have become normalized due to their widespread use. In fact, the notion of corruption is somehow ambiguous for many judicial employees. Despite all this, the MFJ has become a more professionalized branch where the vast majority of employees performed their job competently and efficiently.

Keywords

Mexican Federal Judiciary; Misconduct; Legal Studies; Qualitative Methods; Ethnography

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