Power

Why are Brazilian courts so unpredictable?

Brazil's Supreme Court: a peculiar beast

“I’m embarrassed for having tired you all out so much,” joked Supreme Court Justice Rosa Weber, 81 minutes into declaring her vote on a crucial case to decide whether defendants may be sent to jail before exhausting all appeals routes.

Ten minutes later, she finally reached the end of her 60-page, 19,000-word statement. Her monologue opened with a quote from Voltaire, mixed Portuguese, English, French, Italian and Latin, and ended with a poem from Constantine Cavafy.

Dias Toffoli, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, before calling a much-needed 15-minute bathroom break for his colleagues, gushed: “That was beautiful…”

The...

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