AVISO (12/03/23):
Debido a la gran cantidad de juicios por jurados llevados a cabo en una decena de provincias de Argentina, la AAJJ dejará de publicar crónicas individuales por cada juicio y comenzará a publicar resúmenes mensuales

sábado, 23 de marzo de 2024

ARGENTINA: The province of Santa Fe gives the world its newest jury system

Santa Fe, the twelfth province to incorporate Jury Trials in Argentina.

Yesterday, Santa Fe joined the list of provinces implementing jury trials. Twelve provinces in Argentina now have juries, meaning half of the country.

With unanimous approval from the House of Representatives (which accepted changes from the Senate), the bill to try several serious felonies with citizen participation within the province became a law.

There were four previous attempts of the House of Representatives since 2018 to implement this bill, but they always stumbled in the conservative Senate. But after de the elections of 2023, the composition of the Senate changed dramatically and that paved the way for the definitive enactment of jury trials.

John Gastil, Andrés Harfuch
y Shari Diamond at the
Grey House

Throughout these years, many Argentine and American scholars went to Santa Fe to promote the benefits of trial by jury (Valerie Hans and Shari Diamond jury tour) (Shari Diamond and John Gastil in Santa Fe).

The news made a significant impact across the country, since Santa Fe was the only "major" province without juries. Buenos Aires, the City of Buenos Aires, Mendoza, and Córdoba (the only one with a vanishing mixed court) already implemented trial by jury.

The law is structurally brilliant, since it maintains the characteristics of the common law jury: 12 citizens with gender equality (6 men and 6 women), led by a professional judge who will instruct the jury on the law, a unanimous and final verdict, a voir dire hearing with four peremptories and only one new trial in case of a hung jury. 

It slightly departed from the rest of the bills in Argentina, because it adopted the so called "English Rule": after certain amount of time without reaching unanimity, the judge will accept verdicts of 10. Many observers agree that it is a matter of time to modify this very soon, since the projected federal bill mandates unanimous verdicts with no exception.

Jury trials will be gradually used for the following crimes, even in attempted cases: murder in the first degree, sexual abuse and robbery resulting in death, and murder cases involving police officers while off duty or on leave.


The emblematic Paraninfo, where the
National Constitution was ratified in 1994.

Ariel Bermúdez (Creo Party), author of one of the projected bills, recalled initiatives from former representatives Leandro Busatto (PJ Party) or Gabriel Real (PDP Party) that were passed in the House but failed at the Senate.

Meanwhile, the message from the Executive Branch emphasizes another initiative originated during the administration of the socialist Miguel Lifschitz, and said "we share many of its considerations, which are an important part of the rationale behind this legal institution of jury trials".

"The need for a jury trial law not only fulfills the legislative mechanisms included in the Criminal Procedural Code but also allows for the highest degree of constitutional compliance in our criminal justice system. It enables mutual approach between civil society and the judicial system, facilitating a fruitful exchange of perspectives that involve the administration of justice with the diverse and plural social reality and community values" the message says.

Related news: 

- Página 12 (22/03/2024): "Ahora sí sera como en el cine. Es ley el juicio por jurados en Santa Fe". Click aquí)

- Sol Play 91.5 (21/03/2024): "Se aprobó el sistema de juicio por jurados en Santa Fe". Click aquí

- El Litoral (21/03/2024): "Santa Fe, la undécima provincia en incorporar los juicios por jurados". Click aquí

- Cadena 3 (21/03/2024): "Santa Fe: la legislatura provincial convirtió en ley el juicio por jurados". Click aquí

- Aire Digital (21/03/2024): "Cambio histórico en la justicia y más participación ciudadana: es ley el juicio por jurados en Santa Fe". Click aquí