June 2, 2017

Judge Peter J. Messitte is awarded the Order of the Southern Cross (Ordem do Cruzeiro do Sul) from Brazilian President Michel Temer.

This is the highest award that can be given to a foreigner by Brazil.  It is given “as a token of gratitude and recognition from those who have rendered significant service to the Brazilian nation.”  Prior winners include several Heads of State, among them Queen Elizabeth, President Eisenhower – and somewhat more controversially – Che Guevara.  The award was given to Judge Messitte is recognition of his work for many years with the Brazilian Judiciary.  Judge Messitte is currently Adjunct Professor of Comparative Law and Director of the Brazil-U.S. Legal & Judicial Studies Program at WCL.  (The speech was given in Portuguese and is translated here.)



March 21, 2017

In her letter accepting WCL's invitation to speak at the Law School on April 10, 2017, Minister Carmen Lucia, President of Brazil's Supreme Federal Tribunal paid the Law School a very high compliment.

"I reaffirm the relevance of the prolific cooperation established between the Supreme Federal Tribunal and American University, which has permitted a greater depth of understanding of American and Brazilian legal institutions and which, ultimately, has strengthened the basis that supports a wide-spread and effective Rule of Law."


December, 2016

In late December, 2016, President Michel Temer issued a decree making Judge Messitte a member of the National Order of the Southern Cross (Ordem do Cruzeiro do Sul), the highest award that can be made to foreign nationals, “as a token of gratitude and recognition ... for significant service to the Brazilian nation.” The award, which is expected to be formally made in Brasília in April, is in recognition of Judge Messitte’s work and friendship with the Brazilian Judiciary over the years.  Among the most prominent recipients of the Award in the past have been Queen Elizabeth, President Eisenhower, and Helen Keller.


September, 2016

WCL and the Brazil-U.S. Legal & Judicial Studies Program are pleased to welcome two distinguished Brazilian legal personalities to WCL for this school term.  The first is Desembargadora (= Appellate Judge) Monica Sifuentes of the Federal Regional Tribunal for the First Region in Brasília.  Judge Sifuentes, for many years, has served as one of Brazil’s two International Network Judges under the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction.  (Judge Messitte, apart from his work with Brazil, happens to serve as the Federal Judicial Representative from the United States to the International Judicial Network under the Convention.)  Judge Sifuentes, who has been selected as a Hubert Humphrey Fellow at WCL, will study trafficking in persons, especially women.  The second jurist of distinction who is at WCL this term is Dr. Flávio Chiarelli Vicente de Azevedo, an attorney with the office of Brazil’s Attorney General for the Union (AGU), headquartered in Brasília.  Dr. Chiarelli is a Visiting Scholar at WCL, where he will focus on mediation techniques.  He will be working with Judge Messitte to develop future programs on mediation for other attorneys in the office of the AGU and other governmental entities.


August 11, 2016

Judge Messitte was interviewed by BBC, where was asked, as a foreign judge, to comment on the Petrobras “Lava Jato” prosecution in Brazil.  The Judge stated, among other things, that Brazil’s Public Ministry, Federal Police and Judge Sergio Moro have been cited around the world as models for how the prosecution of political corruption might proceed.  The interview with Judge Messitte was published in the Folha de São Paulo on August 11, 2016, and may be viewed in English here.  (A copy of the interview in Portuguese will be available on the Portuguese version of this website.)


March 2016

Judge Messitte recently authored an article entitled "An Institute for Legal & Judicial Studies at Washington College of Law" that appeared in the March 2016 issue of Justica e Cidadania. An English translation of the article may be viewed here.


January 2016

During the week of January 11, 2016, Judge Messitte visited Brasília and São Paulo on behalf of the Program.  He had discussions with the new Director General of the Escola Nacional Para o Aperfeiçoamento da Magistratura (ENFAM), Minister Humberto Martins of the Superior Court of Justice, as well as ENFAM’s new Secretary General, Desembargador Fernando Cerqueira, about ENFAM signing an accord with WCL’s Brazil-U.S. Legal & Judicial Studies Program. Judge Messitte also met with Fabricio Bittencourt, Secretary General of the Conselho Nacional de Justica (CNJ); with Luis Inácio Adams, Procurator General of the Union, and with the President of the Federal Council of the Ordem dos Advogados (OAB), Marcus Vinicius Furtado Coêlho.  All the meetings explored the possibility of the various entities these individuals were in charge of entering into Agreements with WCL. Richa Bhala of U.S. Embassy/Brasília was especially helpful in facilitating these meetings.
In São Paulo, Judge Messitte met with Jayme de Oliveira, President of the Associação Paulista dos Magistrados (APAMAGIS), an organization with  approximately 3,000 São Paulo Judges as members. On behalf of APAMAGIS, Dr Jayme then signed an Agreement with WCL, which Judge Messitte subsequently delivered to WCL Dean Claudio Grossman.
Judge Messitte also had lunch with several members of the Tribunal de Justica (State Supreme Court) of São Paulo, and was later received in Chambers by the Vice-President of the Tribunal, Ademir Benedito, and members of the Court leadership.
While in São Paulo Judge Messitte taped a speech on the Role of Precedents in the U.S. for the Escola Paulista dos Magistrados.  During all of these activities, there were discussions about the organizations reaching accords with WCL.  Judge Marcus Onodera of EPM was very helpful in coordinating the events in São Paulo.


August 20-21, 2015

On August 20-21, Minister-President Francisco Falcao of the Superior Tribunal of Justice came to Washington and Judge Messitte helped arrange his schedule.

On August 20, Judge Messitte accompanied President Falcao on visits to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and the Federal Judicial Center. They then had lunch with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and Brazilian Ambassador Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, after which Justice Kennedy invited President Falcao and the group back to his Chambers at the U.S. Supreme Court where he led a personal tour of the Court. At the end of the day, President Falcao and the group visited the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

On the morning of August 21, President Falcao visited Judge Messitte’s Chambers at the U.S. Courthouse in Greenbelt, Maryland, where he attended a breakfast reception in his honor, listened to presentations by Judges, a Prosecutor and Public Defender and a Representative of the U.S. Probation Office, followed by a tour of the Courthouse.

President Falcao and Judge Messitte then participated at a luncheon in his honor at the Washington College of Law hosted by Dean Claudio Grossman.  A number of WCL faculty and staff attended, as did several prominent outside guests, including Dr. Russell Wheeler (federal justice expert at the Brookings Institute); Paulo Sotero (Director of the Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars) and Michael McCullough (Executive Director of the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative for Latin America and the Caribbean).


May 2015

The May issue of Justiça e Cidadania, Brazil’s leading law journal, features a cover story on the March-April Seminar on Legal Protection for Financial Investments in Brazil held at WCL, entitled “O Brasil Vai a Washington College of Law” (“Brazil Goes to Washington College of Law”) (available here in Portuguese).

The same issue contains an article on Administrative Law in the U.S. written by Judge Messitte that was the basis of his speech to the Judges School of the Federal Regional Tribunal for the Fourth Region in Porto Alegre in September of last year (available here in Portuguese).


Generous Gift Supports Future of Brazil-U.S. Program

WASHINGTON, April 3, 2015 – American University Washington College of Law (AUWCL) is pleased to announce a generous gift commitment from Antonio Augusto de Souza Coelho, a distinguished Brazilian lawyer who is the chief legal officer of Advocacia Gonçalves Coelho, a law firm based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Coelho’s gift is designed to support the law school’s Brazil-U.S. Legal and Judicial Studies Program, a comparative law initiative dedicated to promoting understanding and exchanges between Brazilian and American judges and lawyers concerning their respective judicial and legal systems.

“It is a great honor to contribute to the study of comparative law between Brazil and the United States,” said Coelho. In 2012, Coelho received the Don Quixote of La Mancha award, which is given to individuals to honor their struggle in the defense of justice, ethics, morals, and citizenship rights by the Brazilian judiciary.

Since its inception in fall 2012, the Brazil-U.S. Program has welcomed more than 200 lawyers and judges to programs at AUWCL where they exchanged experiences in matters as diverse as criminal and civil justice, mediation, and social security law. Over the past two days the Brazil-U.S. Program hosted the First Symposium on Legal Protection for Financial Institutions in Brazil, co-sponsored by Justiça e Cidadania Institute. This seminar was attended by more than 20 Brazilian judges, including four members of the Superior Tribunal of Justice, the second highest court of Brazil.

“This gift meets the very important need of facilitating the dialogue about law and justice between two of the most important countries of the Western Hemisphere,” said Peter J. Messitte, director of the Brazil-U.S. Program and U.S. District Judge for the U.S District Court, District of Maryland.

“This is a unique program in law schools in the United States,” said American University Washington College of Law Dean Claudio Grossman. “The Brazil-U.S. Program further develops the vision of our law school to promote human dignity based on a common understanding of the rule of law.”

American University Washington College of Law is renowned for its dedication to global education through a wide variety of opportunities, including summer programs, semesters abroad, dual JD programs, LL.M. programs and an SJD program. AUWCL offers specializations in areas such as intellectual property, international commercial arbitration, environmental law, and human rights and humanitarian law to respond to today's global challenges by engaging the world through advocacy, outreach, and scholarship.

Through this generous gift, the Brazil-U.S. Program will have a dedicated presence at the law school’s new Tenley Campus.  Learn more about the Brazil-U.S. Program,  international programs at AUWCL, and about the new Tenley Campus, set to open in January 2016.


March 31-April 1, 2015

The Brazil-U.S. Legal & Judicial Studies Progam shall be hosting its first Symposium on Legal Protection for Financial Investments in Brazil, featuring Brazil's top judges, attorney general, and bank officials at the Washington College of Law. More information is available here in English.


October 25, 2014

The Brazil-U.S. Legal & Judicial Studies Program marked the second anniversary
of its founding.


September, 2014

An article describing the August 2014 visit of U.S. Supreme Court Clerk Scott
Harris and Judge Messitte to São Paulo/Brasília/Rio appeared in the September
issue of Justiça e Cidadania (available here in Portuguese).


September 11-14, 2014

Program Director Judge Peter Messitte will give a presentation on U.S. Administrative Law at a Conference of the Tribunal Regional Federal da 4a Região in Porto Alegre, RS.


Week of August 16, 2014

As guests of the Harvard Alumni Association, FGV-Rio and the legal magazine Justiça e Cidadania, Program Director Judge Peter Messitte and the new US Supreme Court Clerk Scott Harris will be heading to São Paulo, Brasilia, and Rio de Janeiro. They will participate in a series of programs with the Tribunais de Justiça of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian Supreme Court, as well as with FGV-Rio and various bar groups.


October 25, 2013

The Brazil-U.S. Legal & Judicial Studies Program first anniversary.

Friday, October 4, 2013

As a co-sponsor with the Brazil Institute, the Program presented a Panel Discussion on the Mensalão (Big Monthly Payment) criminal case, which, at the time, stood before the Supreme Federal Tribunal for reconsideration.  Panelists included, from United States, Program Director Judge Peter J. Messitte, Professor of Political Science Matthew Taylor, and from Brazil, Dean Oscar Vilhena and Professor Federico Normanha Ribeiro de Almeida of the Getulio Vargas Foundation-São Paulo Law School.  The Program was held internationally by Skype, with the Americans in Washington and the Brazilians in São Paulo.  The Program was moderated by Paulo Sotero, Director of the Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center.

The Brazil-U.S. Legal & Judicial Studies Program is proud to provide a continuous forum for the examination of legal and judicial issues of mutual concern to Brazil and the United States.                                 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Panel Discussion was held on “Internet Governance: Spying: The Case of Brazil.”  Program Director Judge Peter Messitte, Professor Michael Carroll, Dr. Costas Toregas, and Dr. Cezar Alvarez appeared as Panelists.  The Program was moderated by Dra. Nathalia Foditsch.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Dr. Paulo Abrão, Brazil’s National Secretary of Justice and President of the Ministry of Justice Amnesty Commission, presented and commented upon the critically acclaimed Brazilian human rights film “Bacuri’s Eyes” (in Portuguese titled “Repare Bem”).  It tells the story of Denise Crispim and her daughter and the torture and assassination of Denise's companion Eduardo Leite (Bacuri) by the Brazilian military during the military dictatorship.

October 2013

During a single week in October, 2013, the Program sponsored three public events of vital interest to Brazil and Brazilians.

June 2013

The Jornal Notícias do Congresso Nacional - Instituto de Estudos Legislativos Brasileiros, an official publication by the Brazilian Legislative Studies Institute, published an article by Judge Messitte on initiatives taken by the United States to combat organized crime.

The article can be found here, on pages 14 and 15. (Available only in Portuguese)

May 2013

O Estado de S. Paulo, one of Brazil's most respected newspapers, published an extensive interview with Judge Messitte in which he discussed issues with respect to age for criminal responsibility in the U.S. The article can be found here.