Gilmar Mendes

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His Excellency
Gilmar Mendes
Gilmar Mendes audiência pública.jpg
Justice of the Supreme Federal Court
Assumed office
June 20, 2002
Appointed by Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Preceded by Néri da Silveira[1]
53rd President of the Supreme Federal Court
In office
April 23, 2008 – April 23, 2010
Vice President Cezar Peluso
Preceded by Ellen Gracie
Succeeded by Cezar Peluso
Attorney General of the Union
In office
January 21, 2000 – June 20, 2002
President Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Preceded by Geraldo Magela
Succeeded by José Bonifácio de Andrada
Personal details
Born (1955-12-30) December 30, 1955 (age 62)
Diamantino, Mato Grosso, Brazil
Alma mater University of Brasília (B.D.) (M.D.)
University of Münster (M.D.) (Ph.D.)

Gilmar Ferreira Mendes (born December 30, 1955) is a Brazilian Justice of the Supremo Tribunal Federal (Brazilian Supreme Federal Court), appointed by then President Fernando Henrique Cardoso in 2002. Mendes was also the Chief Justice for the 2008–2010 term and the Attorney General from 2000 to 2002.

He has been criticised by legal scholars and journalists due to the supposedly opportunistic political motivations of his rulings, and mocked due to his alleged penchant for freeing powerful politicians suspected of corruption. In 2009, Mendes' then fellow Justice Joaquim Barbosa confronted him during a televised session of the Court, comparing him to a local criminal leader who commanded "thugs".

He defends himself from criticism by arguing that he is a guardian of the rule of law and has always denied any wrongdoings.

Early life

Mendes was born in Diamantino, Mato Grosso. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Law from University of Brasília, received his master's degree in Law from the same university, another master's degree in Law from University of Münster (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster) with the dissertation "Presupposed Admissibility of the Abstract Norm Control in the Federal Constitutional Court" (Die Zulassigkeitsvoraussetzungen der abstrakten Normenkontrolle vor dem Bundesverfassungsgericht) and a PhD in Law from the same university with the thesis "Abstract Norm Control in the Federal Constitutional Court and the Brazilian Supremo Tribunal Federal (Die abstrakte Normenkontrolle vor dem Bundesverfassungsgericht und vor dem brasilianischen Supremo Tribunal Federal).[2]

Career as Supreme Court Justice

Mendes in September 2015

Gilmar Mendes was assigned to the Supreme Court by presidente Fernando Henrique Cardoso. During his tenure, Mendes took the position of vice-Chief Justice (2006-2008) and then took oath as Chief Justice (2008-2010). Mendes was also president of the Nacional Justice Council (2008-2010), and implemented a national plan to modernize Brazilian Justice, which resulted in the judgement of 2.72 million old cases (dated before 2006).[3] During his tenure, other measures were taken to enhance dynamism and efficiency in the Brazilian judicial system, such as the creation of the Electronic judicial process and the lower criminal and civil virtual courts, among others.

In addition to his role as a leading judge, Mendes has contributed to doctrine and research, having published many books, articles and participated in academic events.

Controversies, scandals and accusations of corruption

Gilmar Mendes's name was the least supported nomination to the Supreme Court ever to be approved by the senate, with three times more senators voting against him than the next most rejected Justice, Eros Grau.[4] Shortly before confirmation (still as Fernando Henrique Cardoso's attorney general), Mendes was accused of paying R$32K with funds from the Attorney General's office to a law school prep course, owned by him[citation needed].

In July 2008, Gilmar Mendes granted two habeas corpus to the Brazilian financier Daniel Dantas, investigated and arrested by the federal police in operation Satiagraha.[5] Mr. Dantas was arrested and released by Gilmar Mendes' order twice in less than two days. Political bloggers and political personalities started to refer to him as "Gilmar Dantas" after that episode, highlighting his deep connections to the interests of Mr. Dantas. Shortly after the second habeas corpus, a group of 134 active federal judges and personalities signed a petition supporting the judge who had issued the arrest warranties against Mr. Dantas, judge Fausto Martins DeSanctis, against Mendes' decision[citation needed]. In the same occasion, Mendes accused the Federal Police of tapping his phone, claiming that Brazil was becoming a Police State under President Lula and his appointee for the federal police, Mr. Paulo Lacerda. Gilmar Mendes was never able to show any evidence of the tapping, but the importance of the supposed scandal given by the Brazilian media eventually ousted Mr. Lacerda from his position.[6]

Around the same time in 2008, the Brazilian weekly magazine Carta Capital published a piece on the scandals surrounding Gilmar Mendes, denouncing his connection with the law school prep course among other ethically dubious conducts from the justice, particularly paying R$8 million to buy his partner's share out in the endeavor as a way to silence him about how the institute was administered.[7] Mr. Mendes sued the publication claiming that the article was "denigrating his public image" and "hurting his credibility". In November 2010, judge Adriana Sachsida Garcia, from the Tribunal of Justice of the State of São Paulo dismissed Mr. Mendes' claims.[8]

In August, 2012, Gilmar Mendes asked the Brazilian Federal Police to investigate Wikipedia. According to the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, he argues that the Portuguese language Wikipedia's article showcasing his biography uses "journalistic sources" which are not adequate for an "informative article". The sources he refers to are from a weekly magazine that gathered denunciations of corruption involving him.[9]

In April 2013, Gilmar Mendes was again amidst controversy by blocking the due process of legislation that would impose checks and balances to the power of the Brazilian Supreme Court by claiming that such legislation would be unconstitutional. Never before in Brazilian history had the judiciary branch intervened to stop a law or constitutional amendment before it was even debated and approved by the people's representatives.[10]


  1. ^ "Ministros :: STF - Supremo Tribunal Federal". 1999-12-03. Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-09-09. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  3. ^ "Justiça conclui mais de 2,7 milhões de processos da Meta 2 | Notícias Jusbrasil". Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  4. ^ "IMAGENS DA HISTÓRIA: O dia em que Gilmar Mendes foi sabatinado". (in Portuguese). 2009-09-24. Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ "Grampo sem áudio: a suspeita que não pode ser esquecida | GGN". Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  7. ^ "CartaCapital: Gilmar Mendes é acusado de sonegação fiscal e desfalque | Congresso em Foco". 2016-08-15. Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  8. ^ "Textos Jurídicos". Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  9. ^ "Gilmar Mendes pede à PF investigação da Wikipédia no Brasil". 2012-08-05. Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-08-22. Retrieved 2013-08-22. 

External links

  • Mendes celebrates the 1988 Brazilian constitution at Harvard Law School in the Harvard Law Record
Political offices
Preceded by
Geraldo Magela
Attorney General of the Union
Succeeded by
José Bonifácio de Andrada
Legal offices
Preceded by
Néri da Silveira
Justice of the Supreme Federal Court
Preceded by
Carlos Velloso
President of the Superior Electoral Court
Succeeded by
Marco Aurélio Mello
Preceded by
Ellen Gracie
President of the Supreme Federal Court
Succeeded by
Cezar Peluso
Preceded by
Dias Toffoli
President of the Superior Electoral Court
Succeeded by
Luiz Fux
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