Public trust in the U.S. legal system might hover at around 50 percent, but it’s even lower in Brazil. According to a recent study from think-tank Fundação Getulio Vargas, just 29 percent of Brazilians trust their country’s legal system. A quick glance at some of the adjectives most frequently ascribed to Brazil’s justice system might shine a light on why confidence is lacking: slow, uber-bureaucratic, and unpredictable.
While this might seem pretty grim, the legal system still enjoys more trust than the police (25 percent), workers’ unions (24 percent), and political parties (7 percent).
In Brazil, there is only one judge for every 29,000 people. In more developed nations, the ratio is rarely over 1 to every 10,000. Furthermore, judges complain about the lack of resources and the staggering number of cases that show up on their desks every year. The result is a lumbering, grossly inefficient system. According to the National Justice Council, which monitors the Judicial System’s activity, only 27 percent of cases in lower courts have been closed. For the higher courts, that number reaches 52 percent.
We’re going to describe the main branches of Brazil’s legal framework to help you gain a better idea as to how our system actually works.