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  1. Hello I am Luis Beltran and i just want to share with this incredible community. an article that i've published on a magazine Nevada Lawyer back in 2011. only for you guys to know some general differences between countries. Luis Beltran, a 22-year-old law student from Mexico, spent his summer as a law intern in Reno, Nevada. He came to the United States as a 2011 Rotary New Generations Exchange student. He interned at Silverman-Decaria and Kentleman, Chtd., and Holland & Hart law firms. Mr. Beltran is a 3rd year law student at the Universidad Del Valle de Mexico in Guadalajara. I became interested in the United States legal system because of the presence of Americans I observed in Mazatlan. I realized that Americans desirous of opening a business or buying a real estate in Mexico must deal with the Mexican laws and legal procedures. With my preparation, knowledge of both languages and law systems, I will be able to assist in solving their problems. I have found many similarities and differences while comparing the Mexican legal system and the American legal system. The essential difference between the two legal systems is that Mexico is a "civil law" country, while the United States is a "common law" country. The differences start with law school education. In Mexico, law school begins right after high school. This means students need to decide at a very early age what field of study they will follow. Once in law school, it will take us 5 years to graduate. In Mexico it’s very common that after law school, students continue their studies and obtain a Masters in Law or a doctoral degree in a special area of the law. After graduating, we don’t take a bar exam nor belong to any state bar to be able to work. We just need to have our diploma and fill a form necessary to obtain our license, called “Cedula Federal” This license gives us faculty to litigate in any part of Mexico. In Mexico, for a contract to be valid, you only need the existence of an agreement between the parties involved. The consideration is not a requirement. In some cases, Mexican lawyers have to have the assistance of another lawyer called “Notario Publico” (Public Notary) in order to fill various legal contracts (deeds, wills, trusts, etc.) A public notary in Mexico is a lawyer with college education who has the authority to certify documents or to give official recognition to documents and certificates. The Public Notary authenticates facts that become irrefutable. The Mexican Notario Publico is responsible for the legality of the content of the document while the US Notary Public only certifies the identity of the signer. Another difference is that almost all of the proceedings in Mexico are written. Although some of these can be resented orally, all arguments, depositions and testimonies are typewritten. Law and Court clerks transcribe all facts and information and then all is attached to a record numbered chronologically. All the statements to be attached to the record are reviewed and signed by the judge. Those records are located in a room in the court handling the case. Parties on both sides of the case have access to these records. Sometimes one of the parties’ or judge’s presence is not necessary while taking a statement because everything is recorded on a document. If there were any disputes the judicial system applies a mechanism to challenge the validity of the statement. There are also a few differences in criminal law. For example, in Mexico you are guilty until proven innocent, opposite to the American way. There are no juries in Mexico, a fundamental right in the United States based on the 7th amendment. Also, in Mexico the decision or sentence is filed only by the judge. Such sentence is based on a criminal code that stipulates a range of sentences for each offense. There is no death penalty. In the area of labor and employment, Mexican law gives workers rights and protections that businesses in the United States are not required to provide to their employees. For example: employers are not permitted to fire employees without a cause; each year all employees receive a holiday bonus worth 15 days of work at the end of the year; employees participate in earnings of their employers; and medical care is a right guaranteed by the constitution. Health care must be provided to all Mexican workers through the IMSS (medical care institution) which is partially subsidized by the government. In Mexico we also have a summary proceeding called “Amparo.” This proceeding guarantees the individual’s rights in the event that any authority tries to violate them. One of the biggest differences regarding constitutional rights is that when in America a law is declared unconstitutional, that change applies universally to all the people. In Mexico, the law declared unconstitutional will apply solely to the party which filed the amparo. A common misconception is that in Mexico people don’t have the right to own arms, and that all of them are illegal. This is not true. The Mexican constitution allows citizens to own fire arms (legally) in their homes for security. Gun-control laws, however, are very strict and make owning a gun it very difficult (especially a high caliber gun). I have enjoyed my time in Reno, Nevada and I hope to return some day to exchange more legal and professional knowledge. BY LUIS BELTRAN
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