It has become commonplace to talk about a silent revolution in the Brazilian Judiciary for which the widespread use of ICT has been of great impact. In this chapter, we examine how ICT made its way through and is shaping the future of the Brazilian Judiciary. The first part is dedicated to a brief description of the Brazilian judicial system. The second part is divided in three different moments, always related to the use of ICT in the courts. Initially, we exam the earlier experiences, mostly related to electoral matters. Then, we investigate the debate over the national PKI system and electronic process statutes. Finally, we take a look at different ICT initiatives, focusing especially on labor courts. In the final part, we draw some conclusions, trying to sketch a future agenda of research and listing some references for those willing to go further on the matter.
The Brazilian Justice System: A Brief Description
Brazil is a federative republic with three different levels of government: the union, the states, and the municipalities. The judicial branch, although composed of federal and states’ courts, form a national system on its own. As a matter of fact, the Supremo Tribunal Federal (Federal Supreme Tribunal), after a few constitutional direct class actions, has consolidated its position: the autonomy of the different Brazilian courts does not eliminate their insertion in a national judicial system, which is split between a federal branch and a pulverized state system. The former is divided in five regions, each one with a federal regional tribunal (appellate courts) at its top. These tribunals are also responsible in their regions for the organization of the different federal judiciary sections, which constitute the first level of jurisdiction. There are, also, other federal structures related to labor, military and electoral courts, which are organized in a similar way to the federal regional tribunals. Nonetheless, the existence of a national appellate court to each specialized theme—the Tribunal Superior Eleitoral (Superior Electoral Tribunal) for electoral matters, the Tribunal Superior do Trabalho (Superior Labor Tribunal) for labor subjects and the Superior Tribunal Militar (Superior Military Tribunal) for military issues—is a peculiarity of the specialized branch of the federal judicial system.