In Brazil, still, a Justice that always takes time and fails a lot

By ETCO
08/10/2009

Author: Gustavo Autran

Source: O Globo Online - RJ - COUNTRY - 08/10/2009

RIO - With 153 people on board, Bateau Mouche was shipwrecked en route to Copacabana Beach in the last minutes of the night of December 31, 1988, causing 55 deaths. The luxury vessel, which took high society passengers for the most traditional fireworks display on the Rio de Janeiro coast, sank close to Cotunduba Island, just outside Guanabara Bay. A little more than two decades later, only two families received compensation and none of the accused is in prison. For this reason, the case has become emblematic when it comes to slowness in court - the theme of the week chosen by 80% of internet users who visit the website of the “We and You. GLOBO readers on the topics that most concern Brazilian society. As of yesterday afternoon, more than 300 manifestations on the subject had already been posted on the website. Many of them reporting experiences lived by the authors of the comments.

- Slowness in the system is unacceptable in Brazil. My family has been waiting since 1989 to settle a legal case against Furnas - protests reader Ana Luiza Vilela.

- I've had a labor lawsuit running the Judiciary from head to toe since 1991 - complains Mirian Fonseca, another reader who used the space to vent against the problems caused by the slow legal process in the country.

Slowness is not perceived only by those who go to court. Many legal professionals recognize the problem in the day-to-day profession. Among the various causes pointed out, bureaucracy appears as the main villain who hinders the pace of work on the sticks, compromising the smooth running of the processes.


- Judicial rituals are still long overdue in Brazil. The routine in the Judiciary is still carried out with an infinity of stamps, certificates and permits. The delay in cases like the Bateau Mouche is inconceivable and profoundly undermines the credibility of the Judiciary - considers lawyer Leonardo Amarante, a specialist in the area of ​​civil liability, who represents families of victims of the noisy shipwreck and the collapse of the Palace 2 building, in Barra, during the 1998 Carnival, whose compensation process to the 150 families who lived there is still dragging on the courts of Rio and Brasília.

The president of the Brazilian Bar Association in Rio de Janeiro (OAB-RJ), Wadih Damous, argues that the volume of lawsuits opened every year and the lack of strategic planning also help to cause congestion in the Judiciary.


- There is an excessive amount of lawsuits filed, justified by the habit of taking any conflict to the courts. It is not for nothing that the special courts, designed to judge so-called causes of small value, are overwhelming the work in the Judiciary as a whole. To complicate matters, the judges are poorly distributed geographically. Just check out the counties in the interior, which often live poorly - he observes.



"There is no reason for two months of vacation if the vast majority of workers in the country only take thirty days"

Another issue that generates a lot of controversy is the sixty-day vacation, collective or individual, for the magistrates in office. In addition to the rest period guaranteed by law, judges are entitled to a year-end recess, which, at the Federal level, takes place between December 20 and January 6. Senator Eduardo Suplicy (PT-SP) is the author of Bill 374/2007, pending in Congress, which reduces the vacation period to thirty days. According to Suplicy, the project aims to speed up forensic work and speed up the course of proceedings. The senator's proposal is supported by the OAB.


- There is no reason for two months of vacation if the vast majority of workers in the country only take thirty days - criticizes Wadih Damous.

Created in 2004, the National Council of Justice (CNJ) is the body responsible for controlling activities in the Judiciary and for administrative transparency in the sector. On the institution's website (www.cnj.jus.br), it is possible to access indicators on the performance of courts across the country. One of them refers to the congestion rate of the processes. Only in Federal Justice, the rates on this problem reach 58,9% of all cases. If we consider the State Courts, the percentage of cases pending trial in the same period rises to an incredible 73%.

At the same time, there are already visible efforts to minimize the problem. One of the initiatives that is already underway concerns the digitization of the contents of the lawsuits. But despite the obvious advantages of computerization, the elimination of paper will not necessarily guarantee efficiency.


- Many lawyers still do not have updated computer equipment, they are truly digital excluded. This is being advertised as a breakthrough, but it can cause a breakdown if the courts and notaries don't prepare.

During the 2nd Annual Meeting of the Judiciary, held in February this year in Belo Horizonte, the courts outlined ten goals to provide greater efficiency in service and more citizen access to Justice. To eliminate pending issues and unburden the system, the CNJ recommended that all cases distributed by the end of 2005 should be judged as soon as possible.

But what appears to be the obvious solution, however, can also have other side effects. For lawyer Renato Pacca, author of the blog Traduzindo o Juridiquês, which has been discussing the topic for two years on the website of the newspaper O GLOBO, speed in procedures and decisions cannot compromise the quality of the services provided.


- Constitutional amendment 45 says that the guarantee of rights must be made in the shortest time necessary. But there is no point in having a quick decision, if it is unfair, he says.