Virtualization shows that Justice is viable, says Asfor Rocha


Source: Ultima Instância - SP - NEWS - 06/10/2009

Like Brás Cubas, Ceará's Cesar Asfor Rocha seems to suffer from a fixed idea: abolish the role in the Brazilian Judiciary. However, shortly after completing a year at the head of the STJ (Superior Court of Justice), the minister takes a different path from that of the famous Machado de Assis character and his plaster. As of February next year, the Federal Court will be fully integrated into the digital process and, by the end of the year, 31 of the country's 32 courts will send cases to the Superior Court over the Internet.

In his pilgrimage through the country's courts, publicizing the system that reduced the time to reach a case at the STJ from six months to six minutes, he usually repeats a mantra: "Justice is viable". The minister has just released the book, in which he talks about his more than 20 years of magistracy.

When Asfor Rocha took over the STJ in September 2008, after 17 years of court, the stock of cases to be distributed to the offices was over 400 thousand. Today, thanks to an administrative reformulation added to the application of the Repetitive Resources Law, there are 240 thousand. "The expectation is that by the end of the year we will close the stock of processes, this taking into account the average of almost 1.000 protocols per day", he observes.

The minister affirms that these results would not have been possible without the institution of the filter that allowed the mass judgment of thousands of cases with identical themes. "The Law of Repetitive Appeals has been a valuable instrument - not yet fully employed with due enthusiasm in all fractionated sections of the Court - but it is already an important instrument to rationalize the progress and arrival of cases at the STJ," said Asfor Rocha , who participated yesterday in the seminar The Judiciary and Society, promoted by AASP (Association of Lawyers of São Paulo).

For the president of the STJ, who was one of the main names quoted to take a place in the STF (Supreme Federal Court), "the great deficiency that the Judiciary has today is management". According to Asfor Rocha, Brazilian magistrates are technically trained to an international standard, but have “absolute incompatibility for management”. "We have no efficiency control", he ponders.

Eyes girl

Despite the Court's technical and administrative issues, Asfor Rocha is proud to speak of the virtualization process, which began with the development of software responsible for managing the entry and distribution of cases. "We don't spend any money on royalties or licenses and we give away for free to anyone who wants to," he said. "For example, if the São Paulo Court of Justice wants to, we are available," said the minister. The TJ-SP is the only court in the country that did not adhere to virtualization, nor did it set a deadline for that. According to the STJ, the World Bank and the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) have already shown interest in taking the experience to other countries.

By November, with the inclusion of the TJ-MG (Court of Justice of Minas Gerais) and the TJ-RS (Court of Justice of Rio Grande do Sul), all state and federal courts will have already eliminated the paper process - with the exception of from Sao Paulo.

In Federal Justice, the silent revolution is even more accelerated. In January next year, all lawsuits filed in Federal Courts and Courts will already be processed electronically. This should generate brutal savings in the costs of transporting and storing the deeds. If the bill is extended to all courts, the minister envisions, it will be R $ 16 million less expenses with the Post Office. The STJ, which was already allocating parking spaces for the construction of process deposits, should have a 20% reduction in the budget in relation to the costs of processes.

“We know that every paradigm shift encounters huge reactions. Bureaucracy has a huge impact with the virtualization of processes. With a digitized process of free access over the Internet, even serious bureaucrats, not to mention dishonest, fail to do those favors they did for lawyers who wanted to know about the progress ”, says Asfor Rocha on resistance to digitization.

The Federal Council of the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB) even questioned virtualization on the grounds that many lawyers do not have a computer. “But any lawyer who doesn't have it can go to a Lan House”, ponders Asfor Rocha. “It will be much cheaper than sending someone from Acre to take a case in Brasília. This is an unanswerable argument. I cannot see the negative point ”.

According to the minister, the president of the TJ-SP, Roberto Valim Bellochi alleges a lack of resources for the implementation of the system and says that this will not happen in less than three years, despite a study by the STJ pointing out that only the costs with postage would fall from R $ 3,5 million to R $ 840 thousand with Correios in one year.

Despite the obstacles, Asfor Rocha believes that in a short time his plaster will have spread throughout the country. “It is an inexorable process. And if the STJ did it, nobody will be able to say that it is a dangerous experience ”.