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Efficiency, routine and image: The legitimacy and self-legitimacy of the Judiciary under the managerial paradigm

Grant number: 24/02378-5
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2024
Effective date (End): April 30, 2025
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Sociology - Other specific Sociologies
Principal Investigator:Sergio França Adorno de Abreu
Grantee:Thiago Filippo Silva Jorge
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:13/07923-7 - Center of the Study of Violence - NEV/USP, AP.CEPID


The research project has the objective of contributing to the project of understanding the dimensions of legitimacy and self-legitimacy of the legal institutions. In order to achieve that, the question will be analysed in connection with relatively recent changes in how judicial work is carried out, changes promoted in response to the pressures performed under the idea of a judicial crisis. Said movement had as its main tenets access inequality and the perception of a slow acting judiciary. The specialized literature of social sciences has pointed out that, led by the National Council of Justice and the leadership of each court, courts and judges are focusing mainly on reducing the average time spent per legal action. Authors have pointed out that this focus has resulted in a shift how judicial work is performed, mainly through the creation of productivity controls that require of judges that they spend more time in management tasks. Another conclusion is that the connection between productivity quotas and promotion policies creates incentives for further incentives for magistrates to focus on management work, with the emergence of informal practices of organization and processing legal demands. Such practices result in a shift and expansion of the role of judicial clerks. The criticisms of said literature can be summarized in three main points: (1) the focus on management and in increasing judicial productivity sidelines qualitative concerns about the judiciary; (2) pointing out issues in the policies of productivity quotas and data collection of its execution are being implemented, raising concerns that the data produced does not allow one to perceive if and how productivity is being increased; (3) the emphasis in productivity targets and management has not been accompanied by changes in legal or judicial training, which implies that the processes of increasing judicial output does not have the proper institutional support, relying on individual trial and error by the judges. Overall, it can be said that the focus in productivity and management promoted by judicial leadership has the potential to alienate magistrates from their training and their expectations, and the people's, of how judicial work is to be performed. This gap in between expectations and reality main impact the confidence of judges in their own authority and the public perception of fairness due to the lack of transparency. The proposed research aims to produce data in which management practices have been developed and implemented in courts in São Paulo, how those practices emerge and how they are shared, in order to understand the relationship between such practices and the interactional dynamics inside judicial cabinets and in between judges and the public. The methods of data collection will be direct participant observation of judicial cabinets, if possible, and complementary interview with different members of said cabinets. Additionally, or in substitution, in case direct access to the actors is not possible, the research will focus on the analysis of recordings of disciplinary procedures established against judges who did not meet productivity quotas in the Tribunal of Justice in São Paulo, with the objective of understanding the disputes around the constitution of the categories of "productive" and "unproductive" magistrates. The activity will involve not only the analysis of the proceedings, but also the reorganization of the archive, involving the identification of the different steps of those procedures as well as the records and excerpts pertaining to the same legal action. The contribution being sought is the mapping of the divisions pertaining to the focus in judicial management, divisions both in practices and in values, as well as the possible effects of those in the trust on judicial authority.

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