Judge Roberto Corciolli was dismissed by email from his position on the 14th Criminal Court of the district of Barra Funda, in São Paulo. It was September 2014 and his mandate as an auxiliary judge was in full effect. The message was sent by order of the President of the São Paulo State Court. Given the lack of any apparent motive, the judge requested explanations from the State Court for his removal. That was when he discovered that some prosecutors from the district were bothered by his ‘guaranteeist’ rulings, which prioritized the constitutional rights of the defendants, and had asked the presidency of the court to take action. Ignoring all the laws on the subject, the State Court answered the request and transferred Judge Corciolli to a civil court.
The case was referred to the CNJ (National Justice Council), which sided with the dismissed judge: it ordered his immediate reinstatement and instructed the State Court to establish objective criteria for appointing auxiliary judges. An injunction granted by the Supreme Court in response to an appeal filed by the São Paulo court, however, temporarily suspended the ruling of the Council. The case is now waiting to be heard in the Supreme Court.
Conectas submitted an Amicus Curiae in May defending the decision of the CNJ and requesting its ratification by the Supreme Court. The organization’s position is supported by the Brazilian Constitution, but also, and more importantly, by various international treaties such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights – all of which have been ratified by Brazil. It also finds resonance in cases already heard by the regional human rights systems, such as the Inter-American Court.
In São Paulo, auxiliary judges are appointed directly by the presidency of the State Court. According to the National Justice Council, these appointments need to be governed by the principles of objectivity and impartiality, as determined by the Brazilian Constitution. These are the principles that guarantee an independent adjudication and that shield judges, particularly trial court judges, from potential political pressures.