San Juan, Puerto Rico - Today in San Juan, Puerto Rico, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke to judges from across the Western Hemisphere as part of a Department of State-funded training. Her remarks highlighted reforms in judicial systems that can improve rule of law in the region. Justice Sotomayor’s participation added to the positive impact of this annual capacity-building program, known as the Judicial Studies Institute (JSI).

JSI is managed by the U.S. Department of Justice in coordination with the University of Puerto Rico and Inter-American University law schools. The program’s goal is to help Latin American partner nations move smoothly from inquisitorial to accusatory systems of justice. In an inquisitorial system the court itself is involved in investigating the facts of a case, whereas in an adversarial system the court acts as an impartial actor between the prosecution and defense.

Justice Sotomayor spoke to 41 judges from eight Latin American nations. The Institute trains the judges on the use of evidence in investigations and trials, the role of judges and courts in different types of legal systems, and plea bargaining within the judicial process.

The JSI is one facet of U.S. support to partner countries as they build rule of law and fair, just, and effective judicial systems. Since its inception in 2012, JSI has trained more than 366 judges.