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Justice Cezar Peluso in official visit to the US

The President of the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (STF), Chief Justifce Cezar Peluso, spends the week in the United States on official travel. Since Monday (8), he fulfilled the agenda in Washington and New York, including a visit to the Supreme Court and lectures at the World Bank and the Law School at Columbia University.
Since assuming the presidency of the Supreme Court in April this year, Justice Peluso has sought closer ties to the Brazilian Supreme Court with constitutional courts and constitutional courts with jurisdiction in other countries. The rise of Brazil in the international arena has generated great interest in the courts, their functioning and their way of solving legal disputes in the country. The U.S. visit is part of that context.
Kicking off the official program in Washington, Justice Cezar Peluso visited on Monday (8) the Supreme Court of the United States. The Justice attended the session of the court as an honored guest, was received by the court’s top for lunch and met with the chief justice (Chairman) John Roberts.
In his contacts, the Justice Peluso heard a report on the history of the Supreme Court, its administrative procedures and the process of deliberation adopted among the judges. He also spoke about the influence that the United States Supreme Court has exercised in the historical evolution of Brazilian constitutionalism, in particular on the conception of the Supreme Court. He highlighted points of convergence, as the institutes of binding precedents and the general repercussion, despite U.S. and Brazil to affiliate to different legal traditions.

In conversation with John Roberts, Peluso lamented that, for reasons of schedule, his American colleague can not attend the 2nd International Congress on Constitutional Justice the Supreme Court is sponsoring in partnership with the Venice Commission in early 2011, in Rio de January. Until now, over 200 representatives from about 100 countries have already confirmed their presence at the event, the most important meeting of constitutional courts of the planet.
Peluso and Roberts expressed interest in cooperating in the organization of the 2nd Brazil-US Legal Dialogue, scheduled for May next year in Washington. The event brings together judges, academics and legal practitioners from both countries to discuss issues specific to the functioning of the judiciary. One of the creators of the seminar, the American judge Peter Messite said that Brazil has promoted bold innovations and consistent in its legal system that should be better known in the USA. He mentioned, among others, the reform of the judiciary with the Constitutional Amendment 45, the small claims courts and the effort in favor of conciliation and arbitration as methods of resolving disputes.

Legal Dialogue was also the theme of the meeting that Justice Peluso had with the Director of the Law Library of Congress, Roberta Shaffer. The American director has expressed interest in deepening cooperation with the Supreme Court, especially in the dissemination of decisions and the appointment of bibliographic entries. She highlighted the increasing importance that Brazil has been gaining on the world and also reiterated the offer to host the Library of Congress Legal Dialogue, 2011. Before visiting the Brazilian section of law books from the Library, Justice Peluso autographed the book "The civil procedural estoppel", which he updated, and integrates the institution.

At night, Brazil's ambassador in Washington, Mauro Vieira, offered dinner in honor of Justice Peluso. The event was attended by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Judicial authorities of U.S., as Jeffrey Minear (Head of Cabinet of President John Roberts), William Suter (director-general of the Supreme Court) and Mary McQueen (President the National Center for State Courts), and academics like William Treanor (dean of Georgetown University Law Center), Joseph Page (of the same university professor and author of books on Brazil) and Paulo Sotero (director of the Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars). Also attended the dinner the Brazilian ambassador to the Organization of American States, Ruy Casaes.

Stephen Breyer, Supreme Court justice, said that Brazil has already fulfilled the prophecy of becoming "the country of the future." He pointed out similarities between the United States and Brazil today: "They are also strong and important countries in the global scenario of the 21st century." The new international position of the country, he said, broadens the interest in the Brazilian judiciary. Breyer expressed excitement with the completion of Legal Dialogue, an event that in its opinion, will stimulate further cooperation and exchanges between the Supreme Courts, other courts and jurists from both countries.

During dinner, judge Messite offered on behalf of the American judiciary, a silver plate in honor of the visit of the President of the Supreme Court to the United States. In appreciation, Justice Peluso reiterated the priority it attaches to enhancing exchanges of the Brazilian judiciary with its international partners. He added that the Brazil-US Legal Dialogue represents a unique opportunity to consolidate ties between the judiciaries of both countries.

On Tuesday (9), the President of the STF and the CNJ has signed a memorandum of understanding for accession of the CNJ to the International Consortium of Excellence in the courts. The act was signed in the Brazilian ambassador's residence in the United States, Mauro Vieira. At the ceremony, the Consortium was represented by president of the National Center for State Courts, Mary McQueen, who now also heads the multilateral institution.

The National Center has powers similar to those of the CNJ in overseeing the administrative functioning of the judiciary in the U.S.. Already the International Consortium of Excellence in the Courts is an organization whose mission is the international exchange with a view to improving administrative structures of the Judiciary. To him are members of the supervisory administration of justice in the United States, European Union, Singapore, Australia and now Brazil.

For Peluso, the invitation of the International Consortium for CNJ reflects the quality and importance of the work the Council has acquired since its creation by Amendment 45 in 2004. McQueen, who recently visited Brazil to attend the seminar for the dissemination of the report "Justice in numbers," said he was impressed with the research activity developed by the CNJ. He added that international organizations have much to benefit from the Brazilian experience.

Also on Tuesday, the Justice Cezar Peluso met with Mike Van Dusen, vice president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The director of the Brazil Institute of the Wilson Center, Paulo Sotero, also attended the meeting. At the time, was confirmed the institution's participation in the Legal Dialogue Brazil-United States, which, initiated by the Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court, hopes to gather in May in Washington judges and legal experts from both countries to discuss topics of reciprocal interest, like theoretical issues of integration and exchange forms. Among those topics is the discussion of alternative dispute resolution such as conciliation and arbitration in order to reduce the demand and workload of the judiciary.

The Wilson Center is a major center for public policy research in the U.S. capital. The Brasil Institute supports Brazilian scholars in the U.S.. Among his recent scholars stand out Elio Gaspari, Boris Fausto and Celso Lafer. Presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Fernando Henrique Cardoso have participated in activities sponsored by the Wilson Center.

After, the Chief Justice met with representatives of the American Bar Association, which, unlike the Brazilian Bar Association, brings together, in addition to lawyers, judges. A group of members of the Association shall come to Brazil in March 2011 to discuss with the operators of national law several subjects - among them, again, the alternative dispute resolution.

On Wednesday (10), Justice Cezar Peluso, attended a seminar that discusses legal issues, sponsored annually by the World Bank. The "Week of Law, Justice and Development" discusses the future of international financial institutions through the eyes of the law. In addition to Brazilian authorities, representatives of Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde and Senegal also attended the meeting, transmitted by videoconference to all World Bank offices in the world.

In his speech (read the text), Peluso showed great satisfaction to be able to share information about Brazil and spoke about the transformation that the country has passed. For Peluso, the highlights of our current history is the consolidation of the democratic rule of law and strengthen the judiciary, under the aegis of the 1988 Constitution. "A strong and effective legal system ensures legal certainty and prompt settlement of disputes. Democracy based on the rule of law ensures the transparency of government decisions", said the Chief Justice.

To Justice Cezar Peluso, beyond ensuring the fundamental rights and principles, the Constitution of 1988 has also allowed the formulation of demands for public policies by the majority population and the adoption of effective measures to meet these requests. "The combination of these two factors form the social base of our democratic Constitution (or of our constitutional democracy), which never had such a high degree of legitimacy," said Peluso.

According to the president, the Brazilian judicial system has undergone major reforms. He stressed in his speech, the approval of Constitutional Amendment 45 which introduced significant modernization in the Judiciary. He highlighted as a main objective of the amendment increasing the "efficiency of Judicial Administration in order to combat delays in adjudication - a problem which, to a greater or lesser degree, affects the justice of all countries," he said.

The president also spoke about the creation of the National Council of Justice (CNJ) as the "one of the biggest innovations of the 45th Amendment." According to him, the CNJ was conceived as "the central organ of integration and coordination of the various courts of the country." The Justice also highlighted the mission of the body: "to define the strategy of judicial power, but without interfering with the exercise of judicial functions, which, by express constitutional provision, remains an assignment of each court or judge in particular."

The reform promoted by the EC 45, the Justice explained, granted the Supreme Court permission to edit the binding precedents and obliged other courts and judges to comply with the guidance signed by the leadership of the Judiciary. Justice Peluso also mentioned the general repercussion that introduced "significant change in the most important feature of the Brazilian legal system: the extraordinary appeal," he said, reinforcing his point of view.

Concluding his speech, Justice Cezar Peluso address the use of information technology as a means of completion of legal proceedings in Brazil. He said that the Brazilian judiciary has been "a pioneer in the use of information technology to improve the quality of services provided to citizens," and spoke about the elections, where 135 million Brazilians have used electronic voting machines to choose a new president, senators, congressmen and governors. "Less than three hours after the vote, the country already knew the outcome of the election, in a safe and unquestionable way," he said.

The judge ended his speech by declaring his willingness to expand cooperative efforts between the Brazilian Judiciary and the other countries participating in the meeting. Peluso said that the participation of institutions like the World Bank was important to "share experiences and receive new lessons."

To the World Bank director for Brazil, Makhtar Diop, the "virtualization of processes is an example of how one country can solve the problem of improving the service of the judiciary to the public." According to the director, in many countries where the Bank has representation, speed to resolve the court cases is a problem that can be solved by virtualization. "I think Brazil is actually the only country that has a totally paperless system", said Diop.

In the opinion of the director, the World Bank's role is precisely to help and facilitate the exchange of experiences among developing countries. "I think Brazil has many innovations, but unfortunately, many countries are unaware of the wealth of experience in Brazil, for example, the Family Grant program, the Health System and the agricultural sector, all these experiences are very important for us, "said Makhtar Diop.

The program closes on Friday, with a lecture at the Law School at Columbia University on "The Judicial Review and the Judicial Reform in Brazil."

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