Capacity building is an important part of EWMI’s efforts to promote a more effective application of criminal justice in Ecuador. During the first two years of EWMI’s Strengthening Ecuadorian Justice Project, EWMI provided training to over 450 judges, public defenders and prosecutors. The training programs focused on improving oral litigation skills, promoting best practices in solving criminal cases quickly, efficiently, and fairly, as well as strengthening the ability of judicial officers in the use of alternative procedures (alternative sentencing such as parole or community service) and special proceedings (expedited hearings) and making justice sector operators and authorities aware of the advantages of using these mechanisms to lower impunity and increase efficiency.
In April 2013, EWMI continued its capacity building efforts and provided oral litigation training to 61 judicial officers (judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and legal aid lawyers) in Guayaquil. With the goal of improving the quality of information shared during criminal hearings, EWMI partnered with Proyecto ACCESO from Western California School of Law in San Diego to lead workshops designed to further develop the oral litigation skills necessary for criminal proceedings.
During the workshops, trainers relied on a “learning by doing” approach in which case studies were analyzed and trainees participated in videotaped simulated hearings that provided them with ample opportunity to practice the skills required in a criminal hearing. Great attention was given to case preparation with emphasis on determining the relevant facts needed to support one’s case, preparation of a good opening argument, cross examination of witnesses, and acquiring the skills needed to prepare and deliver a persuasive closing argument. Following the simulated hearings, participants received constructive feedback from the trainers on the group’s overall performance as well as their individual role. EWMI received positive responses from the trainees regarding the quality of the workshops, and has planned additional workshops for approximately 100 judicial officers in three other cities later this year.