Campus News

Brazilian court personnel take part in judicial training

In the state of Pernambuco, Brazil, there is a special mobile court system that travels to soccer games and tries overly rowdy sports fans, called hooligans, on the spot.

There may not be such a court in the U.S., but there are other models that are influential for the group of 28 justices, judges, lawyers and court personnel who visited the Dean Rusk Center late last semester as part of the International Judicial Training Program.

Among them was Fausto Freitas, the chief justice in Pernambuco who created the hooligan court.

“The most important thing is the exchange experience with another system,” he said of the visit, noting that he particularly enjoyed witnessing the relative dignity given to the inmates at the penitentiary he visited in Gwinnett County.

A concrete result of studying the U.S. court system is the advent of public education programs and courts dedicated to drugs and domestic violence, said Fernando Cerqueira, a supreme court justice and director of international studies of Pernambuco’s state judicial college. He is the Brazilian coordinator for the UGA partnership.

“We were the first drug court in Latin America, and this comes from this training program,” he said. 

The IJTP is co-directed by María Eugenia Giménez, associate director of the Rusk Center, and Richard D. Reaves, executive director of the Institute for Continuing Judicial Education in Georgia. Cerqueira has attended six times, and calls the U.S. “my second country.” On this visit, he said, the group was most interested in learning about mediation and conflict resolution, in an effort to help reduce lengthy lawsuits.

“There is something we’d really like to introduce to our system—the mediation before the litigation,” he said. “We are studying very efficiently here how the courts work with this, and how we can introduce this to our system.”