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Seminar 'Justice in Numbers' brings together international experts in Brasilia

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Justice is living a silent revolution since the creation of the National Council of Justice", said on Monday (29/08) Chief Justice Cezar Peluso, President of the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (STF) and of the National Council of Justice (CNJ), in opening the seminar ‘Justice in Numbers’, held in the School of Magistrates, in Brasilia.

This is the fourth edition of the seminar, which discussed throughout the day the ‘Justice in Numbers 2010’ report's main findings* concerning the relation between statistics and the strategic planning of Justice.

Under the coordination of the CNJ, the Judiciary has been making an effort to increase transparency and quality of management of the courts, with the adoption of scientific methods.

The information presented in the ‘Justice in Numbers’ Report provides an overview of Justice, through data provided by the courts, such as the number of cases heard and distributed, the number of sitting judges and even the number of judge per 100.000 people. The study also compared lists of personnel expenses, and recipes, information technology, rate of system congestion and workload of judges.

Such a research allows for the evaluation of courts taking into the consideration the number of court proceedings as well as issues concerning financial aspects and access to justice. It also analyzes the profile of each region and state, based on information on population and economy.

The aim of the CNJ is for that data to be a reference in creating a culture of strategic planning and management, as it provides a basis for building management policies and enables the evaluation of the need to create jobs and functions.

International visibility

In addition to presenting the main findings of the report Justice in Numbers 2010, the seminar sought to give greater visibility to the Brazilian Judiciary indicators for the international community, through the participation of foreign lecturers and panelists at the event.

The panel "The importance of judicial statistics for the improvement of the Judiciary", chaired by Minister Ellen Gracie, hosted as speaker former Senior Specialist in Public Sector Management World Bank, Linn Hammergren, and as debaters the experts in reform the Judiciary, Hector Chayes, currently Project Coordinator of Quality and Continuous Improvement of the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security of Argentina and Alvaro Herrero, now executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Argentina.

Linn Hammergren spoke of the way numbers and statistics may be used to improve judicial service to citizens. "Descriptive statistics and indicators serve to focus the discussion, to monitor improvement programs in place, to subsidize the right operations, to set goals and to identify possible causes of the problems," said the scholar, who has researched Public Sector Management for the World Bank.

Minister Ellen Gracie, who has presided over the CNJ, spoke of the importance of numbers for the management of the judiciary. "We can not manage what we cannot apprehend," she said. She admitted, however, the lack of training of many judges in the administration area. "How many of us deal with judicial management for at least ten years," she asked those present, few of which responded affirmatively.

Professor Hector Chayes, who coordinates quality projects in the Labour Ministry of Argentina, took from the speech by the president of the CNJ, Minister Cezar Peluso, at the opening of the seminar to suggest a broadening of ‘Justice in Numbers’. "The first sentence of the speech by Minister Peluso was about justice and citizens. The Court could evaluate in numbers the level of satisfaction of users of judicial services in relation to the service provided. This is not a criticism, because without the “Justice in Numbers’ report I would not even have been able to make that suggestion", he said.

The executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Argentina, Álvaro Herrero, also praised the data presented in ‘Justice in Numbers’ and proposed that the judicial power should analyze statistics from the point of view of those who use the judicial system. "We can expand our vision beyond the operational aspect of the functioning of justice to investigate other players in the system, not just the judges," he said. Herrero cited study in Argentina identifying the actors who by far approach the judicial system: the State and the financial sector.

Brazilian leadership

The last panel of the seminar, which dealt with the topic "Judicial Statistics in the world - comparisons," was attended by the Director-General of the World Bank Council, Hassane Cisse, and by the Professor of Judicial Studies from the Center of Research and Teaching in Economics in Mexico, Ana Laura Kerpel Magaloni as debater, and by the representative of the Working Group on Evaluation of Judicial Systems of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ), Adis Hodzic, as speaker.

Adis Hodzic, from CEPEJ, said that the data obtained are essential for the strategic management of justice. "The question concerning strategic management comes before mathematics and statistics. Accurate diagnosis is necessary to detect bottlenecks and to define how they should be treated." CEPEJ is responsible for gathering information from judicial systems of 46 member states in order to analyze the situation and propose new legal instruments to reduce duration of proceeding, focusing on the identification of best practices and exchange of knowledge between countries.

Ana Laura Magaloni, an expert on budget problems of the Mexican judicial system, made a comparison between the workload, number of judges, salaries and working conditions at the level of federal and state entities between Mexico, Brazil, USA and Argentina, demonstrating that a large proportion of the budget is directed to the Mexican federal courts while the bulk of the work remains with the local judge. According to her presentation, her country shows the largest discrepancy, while Brazil and the United States show similar situations, for example, in what concerns the equitable distribution of wages between state and federal judges.

Cisse praised the system of judicial statistics established by the CNJ and asked the help of Brazil to disseminate their experience and collaborate in the creation of the Global Forum on Law, Justice and Development. He singled out Brazil as a country that can lead this movement due to the progress achieved by the Brazilian courts in obtaining judicial statistics and indicators in such a short period of time. "Brazil has a much greater leadership role than that of the United States, which lacks a unified national report. In spite of its short existence, the National Council of Justice, which is responsible for compiling national data, was able to structure an advanced system of judicial statistics", he said.

According Hassane Cisse, the initiative must fill gaps in cooperation between the legal systems of countries. "In the area of statistics, for example, we do not have a specific methodology of the World Bank. While we use several databases and studies, there’s always the disadvantage that they are not as accurate and have no standardized methodology for making comparisons”, so he made clear.

Thus the idea of the Forum is to bring together government representatives, academics and experts to structure a research program that results in the creation of standardized indicators and allows for the monitoring and evaluation of measures adopted by countries to improve their judicial systems.

* The indicators contained in the ‘Justice in Numbers’ Report provide an overview of the Judiciary from a global perspective, through measurements that enable the construction of analysis in the field of litigation, the structure and budgetary aspects of three spheres of Justice: State, Federal and Labor. In this issue, the ‘Justice in Numbers’ Report for 2010 presents valuable information to society about the reality of the Judiciary in the country, including comparative analysis between the years 2009 and 2010, and provides the main results of the structure of and litigation before Federal, State and Labor courts.

To see the report, please click here. 

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