Dissertation Abstracts

At the doors of the chain: advocacy in criminal justice assistance and the effectiveness of the right to defense in homicide cases in São Paulo, Brazil (1991-1997)

Author: Bruna B S Nicodemos, bruna.nicodemos@gmail.com
Department: Sociology
University: University of São Paulo, Brazil
Supervisor: Sérgio Adorno
Year of completion: 2017
Language of dissertation: portuguese

Keywords: Criminal Justice , Legal Professions , Criminal Attorney , Juridical Assistance
Areas of Research: Law , Professional Groups , Political Sociology


This research aims to analyse the differences between the three kinds of criminal defense – attorney nominated by the State, private attorney and public attorney – at criminal legal aid in homicide processes in São Paulo, Brazil, during the 1990s. I have investigated the possible reasons for the occurrences of different proportions of each kind of defense present in the successive phases of the legal process and its sentences. I have built a database through the analysis of 127 attempted and consummated murder processes registered from 1991 to 1997, which constitutes the database of the research Violence, Impunity and Trust in Democracy (NEV/USP/Cepid), focusing on the interventions of the defense during the processes until its closure. Those interventions were quantitatively measured considering the three kinds of criminal defense. Analysing the documents and statistics of those 127 processes, it was possible to identify some tendencies and raise some hypothesis on the occurrence of distinct proportions of convictions and discharges, according to the nature of the defense. Those hypothesis based the semi structured interviews with some of the most active attorneys on the processes examined. Therefore, it was possible not only to verify that the attorneys working in criminal legal aid as nominated by the State worked also as private attorneys, but that work as nominated, specially at the Juri Court, was a way of attract new clients. That explains why nominated defences resulted in more acquittals, with a little difference to the private defense, even if the private attorneys were able to interfere more during the processes. The Public Criminal Attorneys (PAJ Criminal) were more susceptible, by the other hand, to have their clients condemned, but had more cases with sentences fewer than 5 years of prison. They endured, as the interviews revealed, the effects of the crises at Brazilian Criminal Justice, and were fewer in number. As such, they would aim to make deals with the prosecutors more often, in order to get smaller terms to their clients. Deals between criminal attorneys and police deputies after the defendant arrest were also made evident. Such deals certainly contributed to the exclusion of Criminal Justice cases during the investigation phase. Finally, I conclude that criminal defense at legal aid faced a severe impact with the entrance of new lawyers in the juridical field and the loss of control by the Brazilian Bar Association in the creation of new Law Schools, due to the huge expansion of private law colleges at that period.