Presentatation of the book: "Prova sem convicção" on Superior Tribunal de Justiça (Brasil). last 30th Novembre.

The last book of prof. Jordi Ferrer has been presented by his portuguees translater, prof. Vitor de Paula Ramos wich is also a member of the Chair in Legal Culture.

The presentation at the Superior Court of Justice of Brazil brings together academics and magistrates in an interesting debate about standards of proof. 

The Superior Court of Justice of Brazil hosted last November 30 the launch of the book Prova sem Convicção: standards of proof and due process, by Professor Jordi Ferrer-Beltrán, translated into Portuguese by Dr. Victor de Paula Ramos. The author participated in a round table accompanied by Minister Maria Thereza d'Assis Mourua and professors Vitor de Paula Ramos and Gustavo Henrique Badaró.

Knowledge is always limited.

"Truth is not relative, but knowledge is always relative and limited", warned the professor about the evolution of discussions around the assessment of evidence and evidentiary standards. He also emphasized that truth is not gradual, but the knowledge that one has, does. It is fundamental to question what degree is necessary to be able to sustain a sentence on a trial, for example. When talking about the process of sufficiency of the evidence and the motivation of the decisions courts, Jordi Ferrer Beltrán stated that three stages must be taken into account: the justification of the individual assessment of the evidence; the gradation of it as a whole; and whether these evidences meet the standard required for the case. "If we do not know the norm for the specific case, how can the magistrate justify his decision?", the author questioned the importance of the objective and technical discussion of this process. Thus, a good standard must fulfil purposes: guarantee criteria of ju stipulation; guarantee, to the parties, of rationality in the decision handed down, even to support the appeals technically; and the reduction of the risks of judicial error. "The higher the standard of proof, the lower the risk of convicting an innocent person," concluded Dr. Jordi Ferrer Beltrán.

Evolution of the subjective for the objective

The moderator, teacher and translator of the work, Vitor de Paula Ramos, praised the initiative of the STJ to promote the approach of academics and the Judiciary and to create a space for discussion on the subject. Jordi Ferrer Beltrán's great contribution, in his opinion, is to provide rationality to the process by introducing intersubjective control of decision-making and reasoning. "This allows us to escape from riddles and allows one magistrate to rationally verify the conclusion of the other", he commented. Vitor de Paula Ramos explained that these studies allow us to evolve from a subjective model of evaluation of tests and standards to an objective model, without removing the human element from the process.

The professor gave a practical example of this evolution by mentioning Olympic artistic gymnastics, which until 1948 was evaluated solely on the basis of the judge's subjective conviction, resulting in disparate grades without any justification. After the creation of a standard with technical and objective criteria, that year, it was possible to question the scores and understand them, improving the quality of the athletes' evaluations.

Persuasion criteria to be evaluated

On the other hand, Dr. Gustavo Henrique Badaró replied that the work fills the void of the judge's free sentence. "If the criterion of persuasiveness is subjective, the judge is never wrong, so long as he is subjectively convinced," reinforcing the importance of technical criteria for both the evaluation of evidence and the definition of standards. He also gave a practical example, citing three pots of boiling water as evidence to be analyzed: one was at 70 degrees; another at 80; and the last one, at 85. "But none reached 100 degrees, which are the evaporation standards," he said. According to the professor, the book presents a dense topic in a simple and clear way, to avoid arbitrariness in the judgment of a case. Minister Maria Thereza d'Assis Moura also congratulated herself that the debate made it possible to demonstrate the need for academia and the Judiciary to meet to deal with an issue of mutual interest, since the theory of the rational evaluation of evidence contributes to more technical decisions.

The president of the STJ cited article 155 of the Criminal Procedure Code when addressing the meaning of the expression "free conviction of the judge" and the need for rationality in this process. Regarding the rules of evidence, the minister pointed out that, in fact, the subject still receives little attention from the academy and "even less from the jurisprudence". In this way, he commented, each judge ends up setting his own standard.

The event was also attended by Minister Regina Helena Costa and Ministers Benedito Gonçalves, Rogerio Schietti Cruz and Joel Ilan Paciornik and ended with an autograph session.

We share the video of the TV and radio coordinator of the STJ of Brazil: