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Brazil: Too Many Appeals Slow Down the Judiciary, Says Federal Supreme Court President

(Nov. 29, 2016) On November 21, 2016, the President of the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court, Minister Cármen Lúcia, decried the excessive use of appeals in Brazil, which she said is a main reason for delays in concluding legal proceedings.  Her remarks were given during the launch of National Conciliation Week in the city of Belo Horizonte, located in the State of Minas Gerais.  Cármen Lúcia called for greater use of conciliation and a more efficient judiciary.  (Léo Rodrigues, Cármen Lúcia Cobra Celeridade Judicial e Critica Excesso de Recursos, AGÊNCIA BRASIL (Nov. 21, 2016).)

National Conciliation Week is an initiative sponsored by the National Council of Justice in which conciliation hearings occur throughout the country.  In Belo Horizonte, it was expected that 1,208 hearings would have occurred before November 25, with the objective of promoting settlement of disputes in the greatest possible number of cases.  (Id.)

Carmen Lúcia observed in her address: “[t]his is the first National Conciliation Week to take place after the approval of the new Code of Civil Procedure.   One of the foundations of the new legislation is the priority of conciliation procedures.  It is a change that focuses on reducing the number of appeals and seeks to find effective solutions.”  (Id.; Código de Processo Civil, Lei No. 13.105, de 16 de Março de 2015, PLANALTO.)

National Council of Justice (Conselho Nacional de JustiçaCNJ)

The National Council of Justice was created in 2004 through Constitutional Amendment No. 45 of December 30, 2004.  (Emenda Constitucional No. 45, de 30 de Dezembro de 2004, PLANALTO; Sobre o CNJ [About CNJ], CNJ website (last visited Nov. 23, 2016).)  It is a judicial agency responsible for the administrative and financial control of the judiciary and the supervision of judges.  (Constituição Federal, art. 103-B(§ 4),  PLANALTO.)

In addition to the powers conferred upon it by the Statute of the Magistracy (Lei Orgânica da Magistratura Nacional, Lei Complementar No. 35, de 14 de Março de 1979, PLANALTO), the Council has responsibility for:

  • preserving the autonomy of the judiciary, enforcing the Statute of the Magistracy, and issuing regulations within the ambit of its jurisdiction or recommending measures;
  • enforcing article 37 of the Constitution and hearing, ex officio or upon demand, cases involving the legality of administrative acts performed by members or organs of the judiciary, vacating or revising such acts, or setting a period in which to adopt necessary measures for the exact compliance with the law, without prejudice to the jurisdiction of the Audit Tribunal of the Union;
  • receiving and hearing complaints against members or bodies of the judiciary, including complaints against their auxiliary services, employees, and agencies rendering notarial and registry services that act by delegation of public or official powers, without prejudice to the disciplinary and correctional jurisdiction of the tribunals. The Council may assume jurisdiction over ongoing disciplinary proceedings and determine removal, availability, or retirement with compensation or benefits proportional to the time of service and apply other administrative sanctions, assuring a full right of defense;
  • filing complaints (representar) with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, in case of crimes against the public administration or abuse of authority;
  • revising, ex officio or upon demand, disciplinary proceedings of judges and members of tribunals decided less than one year ago;
  • preparing a statistical report each semester on the cases and decisions entered, by unit of the Federation, which have been issued by the different organs of the judiciary; and
  • preparing an annual report that proposes the measures it deems necessary to take with respect to the situation of the judiciary in the country and the activities of the Council.  This report should be part of the message of the President of the Federal Supreme Court sent to the National Congress on the occasion of the opening of the legislative session.  (Constituição Federal, art. 103-B (§ 4).)