In the southern cone - Chile, Argentina, and Brazil - efforts to improve the judicial system are increasing. Here's a closer look at the judicial systems in these countries:
Argentina's president appoints members of the supreme court, appellate courts, and district courts with the approval of the senate. According to the constitution, all federal judges hold life tenure. Traditionally the courts here have been more independent than those in many other Latin American countries, but they have usually acquiesed in a coup attempt or revolution.
The federal supreme court is made up of 11 judges appointed by the president with senate approval. All judges are appointed for life. The country's civil code, adopted in 1916, is considered one of the best in South America. However, its commercial code is considered antiquated.
Chile's president appoints 13 members to the Supreme Court of Justice; judges are appointed for life. After the 1973 military coup, the court system was left intact, but military tribunals were set up to try opponents of the regime.
In Chile, Argentina, and Brazil the legal system is patterned after ancient Roman law.