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What is in the world is not in the court records: the construction of legal truth in criminal cases of drug trafficking

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Maria Gorete Marques de Jesus
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Doctoral Thesis
Press: São Paulo.
Institution: Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH/SBD)
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Sergio França Adorno de Abreu; Marcos Cesar Alvarez; Maíra Rocha Machado; Paulo Sergio de Moraes Sarmento Pinheiro; Mariana Thorstensen Possas
Advisor: Sergio França Adorno de Abreu

What makes it possible for police narratives about drug trafficking flagrants to be received as truth by jurists and civil servants, especially judges? What kind of legal truth is built when the witness is the officer himself who made the flagrant? In order to answer these questions, this study presents analyses of court proceedings, interviews with police officers, judges, prosecutors and defenders, field notes and direct observation of hearings of custody, instruction and judgment. The variety of data sources required the use of multimethod, with the central point the criminal justice system flow analysis. It was found that the police truth is the result of a selection process of what the police officer will consider appropriate to register and make official. In order to describe these arrests, the policemen make use of expressions, categories and language patterns to narrate their actions. This police vocabulary justifies the approach and imprisonment, and it becomes part of the law field. But what makes this possible? Initially, the issue of public faith seemed central to explain the acceptance of the police truth. However, we discovered that a repertoire of beliefs offers the support for police narratives: the belief in the police as part of the state, people believe in the policemen because he or she represents an institution of the state; belief in the police knowledge, it is believed the agents present their techniques, skills and strategies in order to make arrests; belief in the conduct of the police, it is believed that police officers work within the law; belief that the accused will lie to defend him or herself; belief that there is a relationship between crime and socio-economic profile; belief that judges have the role of defending society and the imprisonment is a way to give visibility to this. Beliefs such as these are present in the discourses of prosecutors and judges as being central to the proper functioning of the justice system. Believing dismisses knowing, there is no questioning on how the information is produced and acquired by police. Practices of violence, torture and threats are not investigated. As prosecutors and judges do not consider true the narratives of people arrested, especially those charged with drug trafficking, expressions such as police violence, extortion, forged flagrant do not appear in the deliberations of prosecutors and judges. Beliefs are central to the exercise of the power to arrest and punish of judges. The police truth is a truth that has a necessary value for the operation of the legal system. In order for judges to exercise their power to punish, a police truth is the central element for the establishment of a legal truth. (AU)

FAPESP's process: 14/19557-8 - What is in the world is not in the records: the construction of the legal truth in the processes of drug trafficking crimes
Grantee:Maria Gorete Marques de Jesus
Support type: Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate