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Brazil: New Minister Appointed to Federal Supreme Court

(Nov. 8, 2012) On November 1, 2012, Teori Zavascki was appointed as a new Minister of the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court. Zavascki is taking over the position left open by Minister Cesar Peluso, who retired as required by law at the end of August 2012 after reaching 70 years of age (Lei No. 8.112 de 11 de Dezembro de 1990, art. 186 II, PLANALTO.GOV.BR). Before he was nominated to the Supreme Court, Zavascki had been a Minister of the Superior Tribunal of Justice since May 2003.(Débora Zampier, Teori Zavascki Deve Tomar Posse no STF no dia 29 de Novembro, AGÊNCIA BRASIL (Nov. 1, 2012).) Zavascki’s inauguration must occur at the end of November, under the new presidency of the current Vice-President of the Court, Minister Joaquim Barbosa, who will replace the current President, Minister Ayres Britto. Britto will also be forced to retire in November 2012, when he, too, reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70. (<?Id.)

Federal Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal – STF)

According to the Constitution of 1988, the Federal Supreme Court, or STF (home page, last visited Nov. 2, 2012), is the highest court in Brazil and is entrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding the Constitution(Constituição da República Federativa do Brasil [C.F.], art. 102, PLANALTO.GOV.BR). It also functions as a court of review (C.F. arts. 102 II & III).

The STF is composed of 11 ministers chosen from among citizens over 35 and under 65 years of age who possess “notable juridical learning and a spotless reputation” (C.F. art. 101). Ministers are appointed by the President of Brazil after their nominations have been approved by an absolute majority of the Federal Senate (C.F. art. 101 § 1).

Superior Tribunal of Justice (Superior Tribunal de Justiça – STJ)

The Superior Tribunal of Justice, or STJ (home page, last visited Nov. 2, 2012), in contrast to the STF, is the court of last instance in the Brazilian legal system for consideration of issues not directly related to the Constitution. (Atribuições,STJ website (last visited Nov. 2, 2012).) Created under article 92, II, of the Constitution of 1988, the STJ is responsible for standardizing the interpretation of federal law in Brazil, based on constitutional principles and in order to guarantee and defend the rule of law. (Id.)

The STJ is composed of a minimum of 33 Ministers (C.F. art. 104), who must be appointed by the President of the Republic, from Brazilians over 35 and under 65 years of age, with”notable juridical learning and a spotless reputation,” upon approval by an absolute majority of the Federal Senate, with:

I) one-third coming from judges of the Federal Regional Tribunals and one-third from the justices of the Tribunals of Justice, nominated from a list of three names prepared by each respective tribunal itself;

II) one-third, equally from among lawyers and members of the Federal, State, Federal District, and Territories Public Prosecutor’s Offices, selected in turns, as set out in article 94 of the Constitution. (C.F. art. 104.)