The Judiciary And Democratic Decay In Latin America: Declining Confidence In The Rule Of Law

Paperback | April 1, 2000

byWilliam C. Prillaman

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Prillaman argues that a sound judiciary is critical for building popular support for democracy and laying the foundations for sustainable economic development, but that most Latin American governments have made virtually no progress toward building a more effective judiciary. He shows that the traditional approach to judicial reform is flawed on several levels. Reformers are wrong to focus on a single aspect of the judiciary on the assumption that one reform naturally leads to another. In fact, all aspects of the courts are so closely related that failure to reform one aspect creates a "negative synergy" that ultimately undermines the reformed areas. Instead, a successful reform strategy must simultaneously tackle independence, accountability, access, and efficiency; otherwise, it is virtually assured of failure. As Prillaman points out, judicial reform is not merely a technical process that can be isolated from broader economic and political forces. Rather, it is an inherently political process that will be opposed by forces ranging from politicians accustomed to stocking the courts, to judges and court personnel reluctant to accept greater oversight and professional norms. Based on four case studies, Prillaman concludes that failed judicial reforms have led to growing support for mob lynching and vigilante justice that promises to fill the void created by ineffectual courts--ultimately challenging the quality and sustainability of democracy. An invaluable survey for political scientists, students, and researchers involved with democratic consolidation, institution building, and comparative judicial politics in Latin America specifically and the developing world in general.

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From the Publisher

Prillaman argues that a sound judiciary is critical for building popular support for democracy and laying the foundations for sustainable economic development, but that most Latin American governments have made virtually no progress toward building a more effective judiciary. He shows that the traditional approach to judicial reform is...

Format:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 9.26 × 6.02 × 0.61 inPublished:April 1, 2000Publisher:Praeger PublishersLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0275968502

ISBN - 13:9780275968502

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"This book is a trenchant analysis of a vital but generally underappreciated component of modernization in Latin America. Without an accessible, impartial, and efficient system for the administration of justice and resolution of disputes, there can be neither fully consolidated democracy nor a smoothly working market economy. Dr. Prillaman's case studies of El Salvador, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile provide vivid examples of good intentions gone awry and suggest criteria for greater success. This book should be of interest not only to lawyers but also to political scientists, economists, and political leaders interested in bringing Latin America fully into the 21st century."-Ambassador Lincoln Gordon The Brookings Institution U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, 1961-66 Assistant Secretary of State for American Republic Affairs, 1966-67