Maierovitch: “Tipping the Scales, or, Dois Pesos e Duas Medidas”


Jumping-off point for Santos: Jabaquara, Southern Zone.
Where Fortune’s Wheel tips the scales of Themis?

Writing on the Web site of the Instituto Brasileiro Giovanni Falcone, Wálter Fanganiello Maierovitch, a former Brazilian federal judge and national “drug czar,” comments on an apparent case of “for our friends, anything; for our enemies, the law.”

Why the disquisition on the Greek goddess of Justice? It may just be gratuitous and pedantic.

On the other hand, Operation Themis was a federal police investigation into judicial and police corruption in São Paulo last year.

Themis hit the headlines around the same time Operation Hurricane was probing ties between the Rio judiciary and the jogo do bicho [gambling and numbers rackets, roughly].

See 

Na mitologia grega, a deusa Thémis da Justiça, – filha de Urano (céu) e de Gáia (terra)-, carregava uma inseparável e bem aferida balança .

In Greek mythology, the goddess of Justice, Themis, daughter of Uranus (the heavens) and Gaea (the earth), is invariably depicted with a well-calibrated set of scales. 

A balança representava simbolicamente a imparcialidade e o equilíbrio . Ou seja, os valores fundamentais para a boa administração da Justiça, de modo a se conferir, como dizia o velho direito romano, o cuinque suum , ou seja, o dar a cada um o que é seu. Aliás, uma das máximas sumas tomistas.

The scales symbolize impartiality and balance. That is, the fundamental values of any decent system of justice, conferring, as Roman law said, the cuinque suum [sic] — “to each his due,” which is also one of the major principles of Thomism.

I hate to be pedantic myself, but I think that’s cuique suum. Dative of quisque, yada yada.

Até o chefão Zeus não dispensava os conselhos balanceados da esposa Thémis.

Not even the big boss, Zeus, could do without the balanced advice of his wife Thémis.

Hera is the wife of Zeus, right?  And is a somewhat unbalanced and vindictive character, to boot. According to Homer, anyway. Virgil’s Juno is possibly an even bigger b–ch, if that is possible.
If I were the man’s editor, I would advise him to cut the disquisition on Greek mythology to a minimum and get to the point.

Which is what I am going to do right now.

Com toda essa mobilidade e passar dos séculos, as balança da Thémis, muitas vezes, passa a pender para o lado errado.

… But there have been many times when  the scales of Themis tipped the wrong way.  

O ministro Napoleão Maia Filho, do Superior Tribunal de Justiça, acabou de contrariar, em decisão, os princípios legais que sustentam o processo penal brasileiro e, até, súmula do Supremo Tribunal Federal.

Justice Napoleão Maia Jr. of the Superior Tribunal de Justiça [somewhat simlar in terms of function and hierarchy to the U.S. Circuit Court, I guess] has just issued a ruling that contradicts the legal principles on which the Brazilian penal code is based, and a Supreme Court [ruling], to boot.  

Fernando Sarney, empresário e filho do senador e ex-presidente José Sarney, foi o beneficiário do erro do ministro Napoleão.

The beneficiary of the justice’s error was Fernando Sarney, a businessman and son of federal senator and former president José Sarney.

Como até o porteiro dos auditórios do Superior Tribunalde Justiça sabe, o inquérito policial é um procedimento inquisitivo . Dele não participam os investigados. A polícia, no inquérito policial, apura a autoria e a materialidade de crimes.

As even the doorman of the STJ knows, police investigations are an inquisitorial proceeding. The subjects of investigtion play no role in them. In this process, the police work to establish the fact of a crime and identify the responsible party. 

O contraditório, com ampla defesa para o acusado, apenas ocorre no processo. Frise-se: o inquérito policial e inquisitorial e o processo contraditório entre a acusação e a defesa técnica.

The adversarial process, in which the accused has the right to a full and vigorous defense, only occurs during the trial. Let me say that again: Police investigations are inquisitorial, while the trial is adversarial, pitting the prosecution against the defense.

Pois bem. Pela decisão do ministro Napoleão Maia Filho, o inquérito que apura eventual movimentação ilegal de montanhas de dinheiro (cerca de R$3,5 milhões) pela família Sarney, nas eleições de 2006, será escancarado aos advogados de um dos suspeitos, o empresário Fernando Sarney.

Well, then. According to Maia’s decision, case files from the investigation into the illegal transfer of mountains of money (nearly R$3.5 million) by the Sarney family during the 2006 elections will be opened up to lawyers for one of the suspects, Fernando Sarney.

O ministro Napoleão, com sua inusitada decisão, torna o inquérito policial público e, por evidente, compromete as investigações policiais e a futura atuação do ministério público.

With this unprecedented ruling, Justice Maia has made the case files public and, obviously, compromised the investigation and the work of prosecutors.

Napoleão cassou uma decisão do Tribunal Regional Federal da 1ª. Região e ignorou a súmula 691 do Supremo Tribunal Federal, que impedia o reexame da questão.

Maia overturned a decision by the TRF of the First Region and ignored [rule of procedure?] 691 of the Supreme Court, which bars judicial review of the issue.

Para completar, — e segundo informa o jornal Folha de S.Paulo de hoje–, Napoleão nunca decidira dessa maneira. Ou melhor, ele mudou sua orientação nesse caso.

To complete the story, according to the Folha de S. Paulo today [Sunday], the justice has never ruled in this way before. That is, he seems to have changed his judicial philosophy in this case. 

[signed] Wálter Fanganiello Maierovitch.

I am interested to see what Maierovitch might have to say about the Open Bridges mafia case. (He writes a regular column for CartaCapital magazine.)

The Folha story he is referring to led as follows:

Autor de uma decisão polêmica, na qual permitiu que os advogados do filho de José Sarney tivessem acesso aos detalhes de um inquérito ainda em curso, o ministro do STJ (Superior Tribunal de Justiça) Napoleão Maia Filho faz uma rara declaração pública de um magistrado sobre a natureza das decisões judiciais envolvendo políticos no Brasil.

Author of a controversial ruling, in which he allowed lawyers for Sarney’s son have access to details of an ongoing investigation, Justice Maia has issued a public statement on the nature of  judicial rulings involving Brazilian politicians — a rarity from a sitting magistrate.   

Para ele, “há políticos tão blindados pela sociedade” que suspeita de corrupção “não pega neles” –citando Lula como principal exemplo. Além de Lula, disse que o governador de São Paulo, José Serra (PSDB), é “quase blindado”.

In his view, “there are politicians that society [is so protective of]” that suspicions of corruption “do not stick to them” — citing Lula as a prime example. He also said that governor José Serra (PSDB) of São Paulo is “almost completely [immune].”

The local phrase is blindado, or “armored.”

On “Lula is the John ‘The Teflon Don’ Gotti of Brazilian politics,” see also

I actually have a very hard time believing that either Squid or his longtime political adversary Serra are crooks in any way shape or form, in terms of their personal integrity.

Both have been the subject of a lot of wild  accusations — including “dossiers” run by Veja magazine that turned out to have been gibbering fabrications– but these always seem to turn out to be utter bullshit in the end.

Em dezembro, Maia Filho concedeu liminar permitindo que os advogados do empresário Fernando Sarney tivessem acesso ao inquérito sigiloso da Polícia Federal que apura indícios de movimentação ilegal de dinheiro da família Sarney, às vésperas da eleição de 2006, com saques em dinheiro vivo de cerca de R$ 3,5 milhões.

 In December, Maia issued an injunction allowing lawyers for Fernando Sarney to have access to a confidential investigation by the federal police into indications of illegal money transfers by the Sarney family on the eve of the 2006 electoins, with cash withdrawals of some R$3.5 million.

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