Research Projects

Brazil’s Supreme Court and Politics During Transition to Democracy

Fabiana Luci de Oliveira / Desirée Marques

Research Grant: Fapesp (2018-2020)

The project aims to discuss the relations of the Supreme Court with politics in the period of democratic transition (1979 to 1988), analyzing decisions on judicial review cases (Rps). The proposal is to investigate the dynamics of the decision-making process in the Supreme Court, verifying the analytical validity of the concept of judicialization of politics in the interpretation of the court’s performance in that period. In order to do so, it seeks to describe the decision-making agenda, mapping the issues on which the court ruled, and how it effectively decided; and to analyze the dynamics of the collegial game, identifying the way in which Justices grouped to vote and the determinant factors on the formation of majority coalitions. It seeks to specify the factors that influence the constitution of voting networks, and the decision-making agenda, identifying the explanatory factors in the way the court ruled. Secondly, it seeks to investigate the performance of the Attorney General, exclusive holder of the prerogative to interpose judicial review cases. The theoretical-methodological approach is based on decision theories, especially in the dialogue amongst attitudinal, strategic and neoinstitutional models, supported by studies on the behavior of the Judiciary in countries under authoritarian regimes and in democratic transitions. The research will use quantitative (combinatorial analysis and regression) and qualitative (content analysis) analytical techniques. The main contribution this project brings is a detailed interpretation on the extent of the political performance of the Supreme Court in democratic transition, providing alternative explanatory elements to democratization for the expansion of judicial power.

Brazil’s Supreme Court Decision-Making Process: Relational approach and informal judicial politics

Fabiana Luci de Oliveira

Research Grant: CNPq (2020-2022)

The aim of the project is to discuss the relationship between the Supreme Court (STF) and politics, using the relational approach and incorporating the informal dimension of negotiations and interpersonal and political relations into the analysis of the judicial decision-making process. It investigates the mechanisms of external influence and informal interferences in the Court – such as public pressure, rhetorical attacks, unofficial communications, and informal negotiations. The analysis of the informal dimension takes place via media coverage and interviews with stakeholders. The theoretical-methodological approach is the one of judicial behavior studies, relying on studies of courts in authoritarian countries and democracies considered to be imperfect or incomplete. The main contribution that this project seeks to bring is a detailed analysis of the Court relations with politics, from the incorporation of the informal dimension of judicial politics to the explanatory models of the decision-making process, also contributing to the agenda of discussions on reform and accountability in Brazil’s Supreme Court and in the Judiciary as a whole.

Professional networks and bureaucratic discretion in Brazil’s Supreme Court

Fabiana Luci de Oliveira / Luciana Gross Cunha / Vanessa Elias de Oliveira

The research discusses autonomy and discretion of state bureaucracy, having as object the Supreme Court (STF), aiming at: (i) mapping the profile of its bureaucratic body; (ii) understand how the bureaucracy is configured and operates; and (iii) identify the relational flows in the professional networks to which these bureaucrats belong. We are interested in looking at the composition of the Justices’ offices, including advising judges and law graduates who occupy positions in commission (clerks), checking the existence, the modus operandi, and the influence of informal networks that interfere in the choice of these professionals. The research will shed light on the performance of this body of advisers and assistants, who can act as mediators, coordinators or gatekeepers between different interest groups and the Justices of the Supreme Court, thus contributing to the public debate on rules of transparency and responsiveness of state bureaucracy.

Decision-Making Process in Brazil’s Supreme Court: networks and voting groups

Fabiana Luci de Oliveira / Sarah Pereira da Silva / Simone Braghin

Research Grant: Fapesp (2013-2015)

The overall objective is to discuss the composition of voting groups and networks in the Supreme Court (STF), focusing on changes in composition of the court over the past thirteen years, verifying the impact the career path of Justices has had in determining the composition of these groups and in its decision-making process. I will analyze ADINs (judicial review cases), non-unanimously decided, in the period of 1999 to 2012. I will seek to identify the reasons and consequences of dissent, discussing whether and how the career path of Justices influences the degree of divergence between them. I will also examine the behavior of Justices who joined the court in the period under study, considering decisions of interest to the government which appointed them, comparing their positions to the ones of other Justices in the court, bringing more data to test in a robust way the argument that the nomination process would entail subservience of the appointed Justice to the appointing government. I will systematically observe if Justices appointed in same governments but with different career paths vote in the same way in these decisions or not. As a secondary objective I will build a database of all non-unanimous decisions of the Supreme Court (ADINs) in this period, contributing to the consolidation of a field of study that is growing in Brazil, providing consistent material for other researchers who wish to study the decision-making process in the Supreme Court. The theoretical and methodological approaches that support research contain concepts from theories of decision (attitudinal models, strategic and institutional), group formation and the sociology of professions. The study will make use of quantitative and (combinatorial analysis and logistic regression) and qualitative (content analysis) data analysis techniques. There will also be support from newspapers articles in search of understanding the context of decision-making and the formation of groups – a second derivative product will be the mapping of how segments of the media portrayed the role of the Court in the period under study, allowing public opinion on the court to be included in the model of analysis.

Globalization and Legal Professions in Emerging Economies (GLEE)

Luciana Gross Cunha / Daniela Gabbay / Fabiana Luci de Oliveira / Luciana Oliveira Ramos / David Wilkins / David Trubek

Research Grant: Harvard Law School (2011-2018)

The GLEE Project investigates the impact of globalization on the corporate legal sector in emerging economies and the effect of changes in this sector on other parts of the legal order including legal education and the provision of legal services to underrepresented interests. The Project is the first comprehensive attempt to analyze the impact of globalization on the overall workings of corporate legal sectors in emerging economies as well as their increasing interactions with law firms and professions from advanced economies. It is conducted by a multidisciplinary team with expertise in the fields of law and the legal profession, globalization studies, economics and sociology. The Project analyzes the corporate legal sector with an eye to contributing to theoretical debates as well as acquiring and applying knowledge that will facilitate problem solving and foster innovation.

Justice Confidence Index (JCIBrazil)

Luciana Gross Cunha / Fabiana Luci de Oliveira / Luciana Oliveira Ramos / Rodrigo De Losso da Silveira Bueno / Joelson Oliveira Sampaio

Research Grant: Fundação Getulio Vargas (2010-2018)

The JCIBrazil is a measure of judicial performance, which considers the factors that lead people to use (or not) and trust (or not) the judicial system. JCIBrazil works with five dimensions: efficiency (speed), responsiveness (competence), accountability (impartiality), independence (from external political influence) and access (ease of use and costs). The ultimate question this indicator seeks to answer is how effective the judiciary is in guaranteeing “justice” for individuals and business in Brazil in the eyes of the population. JCIBrazil is composed of two sub-indexes: (i) an index of perception – how the general public perceives the various dimensions of the judiciary as a public service provider – and (ii) an index of attitude – what are the attitudes and beliefs of the general public regarding the role of judiciary in solving conflicts. The index of perception is based on a set of nine questions covering (i) trust, (ii) speed in deciding conflicts, (iii) cost of access (iv) ease of access, (v) independence, (vi) honesty, (vii) competence, (viii) perception of past (last five years) and (ix) expectations for the future (next five years). The index of attitude is based on six different hypothetical situations where we ask the public how likely they would be to try and use the judiciary to resolve a conflict or problem – the possible answers to those questions are: (i) definitely not, (ii) probably not, (iii) probably yes, (iv) definitely yes. We have developed these hypothetical situations via cognitive interviewing to examine a range of conflicts in which the population of urban centers will often be involved and where they have a choice as to whether to raise proceedings in court, excluding issues where the people involved are not free to decide whether or not to seek a judicial solution. We present cases concerning consumer issues, family, neighborhood, labor and public law. We also tried to create situations in which people from very different income and social groups would all experience and situations in which respondents will be asked to envisage occupying different positions in the conflict – thus, for example, in one circumstance the respondent is the consumer, with a weaker position and in another situation the interviewee is the contractor, in respect of service provision, having a stronger position.

Justice and Society in Rio de Janeiro Slums

Fabiana Luci de Oliveira / Maria Tereza Sadek / Izabel Saenger Nuñez

Research Grant: Ford Foundation

The aim of the project is to contribute to the improvement of the Brazilian justice system, with a special focus on access to justice through research, via production and dissemination of knowledge. The project is developed in three axes (interconnected by the discussion of access to justice): (1) mapping of empirical research already carried out on the brazilian justice system, considering its different actors and institutions; (2) empirical research on those excluded from the formal justice system, mapping their perception and knowledge of rights, as well as the types of conflicts they experience and the means employed to resolve them and (3) a seminar on the right to housing and urban land regularization as a means of promoting rights.