Cablegate: Argentina Seeks U.S. Support for Ambitous Judicial Reform

DE RUEHBU #2240/01 3241513
R 201513Z NOV 07




E.O. 12958:N/A

1. (U) SUMMARY: Ambassador Wayne met with Argentine Supreme Court
President Dr. Ricardo Lorenzetti on November 15 to discuss
Lorenzetti's October trip to Washington, learn more about
Lorenzetti's proposed national judicial management reform plan, and
identify areas for enhanced cooperation on deepening Argentina's
judicial reforms. Lorenzetti's plan, which draws heavily on input
from the Administrative Office of US Courts and US-based Federal
Judicial Center, is an attempt to dramatically improve the
efficiency and professionalism of the federal judiciary. The
Ambassador and Lorenzetti discussed ways that the Embassy can
continue supporting their efforts including through increased
exchange visits, video conferences, training, and continued
assistance from the Embassy Information Resource Center. Lorenzetti
also highlighted the importance of current inputs from the Embassy's
Public Affairs Section for the current work of the reform
commission. Finally, Lorenzetti discussed Argentina's plans to host
the Conference of Supreme Courts of the Americas by July 2009. He
expressed concern on the state of protection of rights in Bolivia
and Venezuela, and indicated that the 2009 conference would focus on
the importance of rule of law and the protection of civil rights in
the Americas. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Ambassador met with Argentine Supreme Court President Dr.
Ricardo Lorenzetti November 15 to discuss his October 1-5 meetings
in Washington with several U.S. Supreme Court Justices, the Federal
Judicial Center, the American Law Institute, and professors at the
law schools of Georgetown University and the University of Maryland.
His trip energized him -- he said it demonstrated the importance of
deepening Argentine cooperation with the United States on judicial
matters. He explained that the similarities between the U.S. and
Argentine constitutional structures and federal systems made his
trip to the U.S. especially relevant. He called the American
judicial system in general, and former President and Supreme Court
Justice Taft in particular, judicial reform models that he wanted to
implement in Argentina.

3. (U) Lorenzetti explained that he has been urging the GOA to
improve the institutional functioning of the judiciary since he took
office as President of the Supreme Court in 2007. Improving the
functioning of the court system is vital to increasing public trust
and confidence in the judiciary and bringing the people and the
courts closer together. However, he emphasized, reforms must come
from within the judiciary and not be imposed by politicians.
Lorenzetti did not expect the incoming Cristina Fernandez de
Kirchner administration, including the recently announced
appointment of Anibal Fernandez as Justice Minister, to
significantly affect his reform plans.

--------------------------------------------- -----
Argentine National Judicial Management Reform Plan
--------------------------------------------- -----

4. (SBU) Lorenzetti told the Ambassador he has established a
commission to develop a National Judicial Management Reform Plan
focused on investing in training and technology to be rolled out by
February 2008. He explained that the Commission has begun drafting
operation manuals which will be used as the basis for developing
corresponding training programs. The manuals will define the roles
and responsibilities for each judiciary division, establish clear
standards for each type of judicial action, and stipulate remedial
actions to address judicial errors or delays. Lorenzetti stated
that these manuals will be partially based on the U.S. judicial
system operations manuals he received on his trip from the Federal
Judicial Center. Once the plan has been announced, the Appellate
and District Courts of each judicial division will then implement
the plan. Lorenzetti has also proposed establishing a consultative
group that would be institutionalized as a commission to oversee the
training of federal judicial staff. Lorenzetti hopes to eventually
require court officials to take continuing education courses, and
ensure that such training returns tangible benefits to the
institution beyond serving as a judicial perk.

5. (U) Lorenzetti also hopes to improve the technical capacity of
the judicial system, given that the court currently has limited
access to basic information technology to efficiently manage its
caseload and to improve its productivity. Lorenzetti told the
Ambassador that the GoA has agreed to finance significant
investments in this area for the federal court system. According to
Lorenzetti, while the GoA turned down an offer for financing for
these technology investments from the Inter-American Development
Bank since they had their own funds for this project, the IDB will
provide technical assistance in the form of advisers to help with
the project. Lorenzetti acknowledged the current technical
assistance provided by the Embassy, which includes the provision of
direct technical advice to the Argentine Supreme Courts' research
team in the Office of Comparative Law. Post also provided direct
access to the Embassy's virtual collection of US legal resources.

BUENOS AIR 00002240 002 OF 002

The Ambassador assured Lorenzetti that the Embassy, through its
Public Affairs Section and Information Resource Center, will
continue these efforts and explore ways to provide additional
support to advance judicial reform in Argentina. Post is developing
a plan for directly supporting their reform efforts. The plan will
focus on supporting the development of the operation manuals and
support for training of judicial officials especially through
distance learning opportunities.

Judicial Restatements

6. (U) Lorenzetti outlined his plan to create an Argentine version
of the American Law Institute's (ALI's) publications of "judicial
restatements", authoritative legal scholarship on key legal issues.
Lorenzetti felt it is important for the project to be financed and
run independently from the judiciary. He wanted to help establish a
foundation that would convoke judges and outside legal experts, but
he was concerned about who would fund the project. Ambassador
suggested that a few of the larger Argentine business foundations
might be willing to underwrite this project to promote transparency
and legal predictability.

Conference of Supreme Courts of the Americas

7. (SBU) Ambassador and Lorenzetti also discussed Argentina's
intention to host the Conference of Supreme Courts of the Americas
in July 2009. Lorenzetti said that U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts
had agreed to attend, but has yet to confirm the dates that he is
available. Lorenzetti hopes to focus the conference on the Rule of
Law and the state of protection of legal rights in the Americas. He
expressed his personal concern on threats to fundamental liberties
in Bolivia and Venezuela. According to Lorenzetti, the other
Mercosur members want to attend the conference and support a focus
on the protection of rights. Ambassador offered Embassy support for
the conference, suggesting that we could work with other Embassies
in the region and with USAID to finance attendance for
representatives from some of the poorer countries.

9. On November 20, Ambassador discussed these projects with visiting
President of the American Bar Association William H. Neukom and
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Margaret McKeown. Both
expressed support for working their constituent contacts to support
Lorenzetti's efforts.

10. (SBU) COMMENT: Lorenzetti strikes us as an open-minded, capable,
and independent public-servant with an ambitious plan for the
Supreme Court. If it succeeds, the plan will modernize the Argentine
judiciary and improve the rule of law in Argentina. The question
remains whether he has the authority, not to mention the political
support, to create an effective and independent judiciary. The
current administration has shown mixed interest in supporting an
independent judiciary, and there is a significant chance that the
incoming administration, which features many of the same principals
on legal/judicial issues, will change little. But we strongly
believe Lorenzetti's agenda is worth supporting with the new
government, and we intend to do so and very much look forward to
Washington's support. END COMMENT.


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