School of Law Initiates Mexico-U.S. Exchange Program

Exchange visits by Mexican and U.S. judges and legal scholars will soon be facilitated by a new program underway at Seattle University. Based at the School of Law, the new effort has been named the Program on Mexico-U.S. Judicial and Scholar Interchanges (or in Spanish: México-U.S. Programa de Intercambios de Magistrados y Académícos).

The interchange will be inaugurated October 10 with the visit to Seattle of Dr. Diego Valadés, a former Magistrado (Justice) of the Supreme Court of Mexico, and presently Director of the prestigious Institute of Juridical Studies at the National Autonomous University of México (UNAM). Dr. Valadés’ lecture will compare the institutional roles in national governance of presidential cabinets in Mexico and the United States.

In addition to his tenure on the Supreme Court from 1993-95, Dr. Valadés was previously the Procurador General (Attorney General) of Mexico. The author of several books on constitutional law, Dr. Valadés holds a doctorate from the University of Madrid (Complutense) and is a member of academic associations in such nations as Argentina and Brazil. Valadés has received international recognition for his numerous publications on the role of constitutions in politics and governance in Latin America.

The new initiative at Seattle University has the support of Dr. Jorge Madrazo, Consul Titular of Mexico based in Seattle. Madrazo is a distinguished constitutional law scholar who formerly was Director of the Institute of Juridical Studies at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Indeed, the interchange between scholars and judges in Mexico and the United States was first conceived of by Dr. Madrazo and King County Superior Court Judge Steven Gonzalez. Judge Gonzalez, who recently returned from a tour of courts in Mexico City, will head the program’s Board of Advisors comprised of Washington State judges and lawyers.

According to Consul General Madrazo, “A key dimension of the ever-developing relationships between Mexico and the United States is a mutual comprehension of the legal systems of both nations, each of which has distinctly different historical and theoretical roots. An exchange of judges and legal scholars will deepen the comprehension of the differences as well as the ways in which the systems of law and governance interact. Jurists who have personal experiences with neighboring legal systems are an essential tool to the solution of bi-national challenges such as immigration, terrorism, environmental protection and resource conservation.”

In announcing the Program, Dean Rudolph Hasl hailed the activity as a key development in the School of Law’s expanding global focus and its emphasis on diversity. “Students of Mexican as well as Latino ancestry are essential and integral to the law school’s diversity,” according to Dean Hasl, “and they reflect the growing importance of Latinos as the largest population of color in the state. The interchanges will expose all of our students to some of the most important and influential judges and scholars in Mexico, and will underscore the importance of transnational relationships as a crucial dimension of legal education in an increasingly complex international order.”

Dean Hasl also noted that the School of Law’s new LL.M program for students who earned their Juris Doctor degree outside the United States, directed by Professor Mark Chinen, is in the process of recruiting students from several Latin American nations, including Mexico. Additionally, he extolled the contribution of Professor Raven Lidman, who has organized exchanges with Nicaraguan universities, including that of current visitor, Professor Fabiola Peña of the Universidad CentroAmericana (UCA) in Managua. He also noted that another SU Law faculty member, Professor Carmen Gonzalez, has received praise for her work on agriculture in Latin America. Born in Cuba, Professor Gonzalez recently returned from a Tulane University sponsored conference in Cuba.

Dean Hasl has named Professor Henry W. McGee, Jr. to direct the project. Professor McGee has served as a visiting professor and researcher at various Mexican and Latin American universities, including the one where both Drs. Madrazo and Valadés taught. While at UCLA, Professor McGee was named a member of the Mexican Academy of Private International and Comparative Law. Last year, Professor McGee was Fulbright Professor and Researcher at the University of Madrid (Complutense), as well as at the Madrid-based (Spanish) National Distance Learning University.

Professor Mimi Samuel will assist Professor McGee in organizing the program. Fluent in Spanish, Professor Samuel recently returned from Russia where she visited Far Eastern National University of Vladivostok as part of an international exchange between that institution and the Seattle University School of Law.

Professor McGee described the Program as part of an expanding presence by foreign legal scholars, including a year-long visit last year by a Spanish scholar from the University of Alicante, and the visits during the current academic year by the distinguished Pakistani professor Tayyab Mahmud, and South African professor and U.S. citizen Christopher Roederer

According to McGee, “the civil law systems (of which Mexico’s is an outstanding example) are order of magnitude more numerous internationally. Legal education in the United States, given the dominance of the nation in world affairs, cannot be regarded as adequate without some appreciation of the convergence between the legal systems of the English-speaking nations with those of most of the world. The interchange fostered by the Seattle School of Law Program will expose our legal researchers, judges and law students to the challenges faced by the bench and bar of Mexico. In turn, our academic colleagues as well as lawyers and judges in Washington State have much to learn from the jurists of Mexico. Moreover, Seattle University law students, no matter their ancestry, will have their horizons expanded in encounters with lawyers of other nations, in particular those of this hemisphere.”

In announcing the program, Dean Hasl noted that in addition to Judge Gonzalez, the Board of Advisors of the Program will include recently retired Washington State Supreme Court Justice Charles Z. Smith, and Ricardo S. Martinez, a federal magistrate who is under consideration for appointment to the United States District Court in Seattle.

Sullivan Hall Patio