A Comparative-Empirical Analysis of Administrative Courts in Mexico

Sergio López-Ayllón, Lila García, Ana Elena Fierro

Abstract

The main function of administrative courts in Mexico is to resolve disputes between administrative agencies and citizens. Mexico is a federal system with 31 states and a Federal District. Twenty-nine states and the Federal District have administrative courts of this type. Most of these courts follow the French model of reviewing administrative actions in bodies that do not form part of the regular justice system. However, almost half of the states have deviated from this model and ascribed these administrative courts to the judicial branch. How does this change in the institutional framework influence the way administrative court judges review administrative action disputes? In order to answer this question we analyzed the rulings of judges from the different types of courts empirically. The Mexican federal court structure made this experiment possible because there are both administrative courts incorporated into the judiciary and autonomous courts. We used a database of more than 4,000 cases from over twenty local administrative courts. We analyzed the influence of the branch to which the court belongs, the procedures of appointment for judges, the length of a judge’s term in office, and the protection of judges’ salaries over their actual decisions. We classified decisions into two broad categories: progovernment decisions and case dismissals. The results point toward evidence that the branch to which the court belongs, the length of a judge’s term in office and governor intervention in the appointment of judges affect judges’ decisions.

Keywords

Administrative courts; French tradition; length of judges’ terms in office; appointment procedures; salary protection

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