Envisioning Reform

Conceptual and Practical Obstacles to Improving Judicial Performance in Latin America

By (author) Linn Hammergren

Hardback - £61.95

Publication date:

10 April 2007

Length of book:

360 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271029337

Judicial reform became an important part of the agenda for development in Latin America early in the 1980s, when countries in the region started the process of democratization. Connections began to be made between judicial performance and market-based growth, and development specialists turned their attention to “second generation” institutional reforms. Although considerable progress has been made already in strengthening the judiciary and its supporting infrastructure (police, prosecutors, public defense counsel, the private bar, law schools, and the like), much remains to be done.

Linn Hammergren’s book aims to turn the spotlight on the problems in the movement toward judicial reform in Latin America over the past two decades and to suggest ways to keep the movement on track toward achieving its multiple, though often conflicting, goals. After Part I’s overview of the reform movement’s history since the 1980s, Part II examines five approaches that have been taken to judicial reform, tracing their intellectual origins, historical and strategic development, the roles of local and international participants, and their relative success in producing positive change. Part III builds on this evaluation of the five partial approaches by offering a synthetic critique aimed at showing how to turn approaches into strategies, how to ensure they are based on experiential knowledge, and how to unite separate lines of action.

“Lynn Hammergren’s outstanding book addresses one of the most important questions in democracy studies today—how to strengthen the rule of law through judicial reform. Her treatment of this subject is original, critical, richly informed, and comprehensive. I recommend the book to practitioners and academic researchers with equal enthusiasm.”

—Michael Dodson, Texas Christian University