In the first half of 2018, the Brazilian Supreme Court has already tried over 64,000 cases – with over 41,300 others still pending. If that sounds excessive, it is. But the number is much smaller than it used to be: midway through 2010, Brazil’s 11 Justices had 121,000 cases in front of them.
To speed up the daily work of the Supreme Court, Justices work in two small groups called “panels.” These panels, each made up of five justices (the Chief Justice doesn’t take part in either), rule on specific cases that don’t require a decision from all members of the court. One of these panels has become known as the “Garden of Eden,” due to its propensity for ruling in favor of defendants.
Last week, the “garden” did what it does best and made the lives of politicians targeted by law enforcement a little easier. The panel blocked a criminal action against a congressman of the center-right Brazilian Social Democracy Party, denied an arrest order for a money launderer who works for the center-right Brazilian Democratic Movement party, rejected evidence from a raid at the apartment of a left-wing Workers’ Party senator, and, in the most controversial decision, the panel released José Dirceu from jail, a former Chief of Staff with multiple corruption convictions on his rap sheet.