Welcome to Brazil-U.S. Legal and Judicial Studies Program

The Brazil-U.S. Legal and Judicial Studies Program at American University Washington College of Law is a comparative law program focused exclusively on Brazil and the United States and their respective legal and judicial institutions. Led by Senior United States District Judge Peter J. Messitte, the program is unique in offering a direct comparison of Brazilian legal and judicial institutions with those of the United States.

The Program offers participants a firmer understanding of both Brazilian and U.S. systems and transmits substantial practical knowledge as the two countries increase their interaction with one another.

The Program has established a special bond with members of Brazil’s Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF) and Superior Tribunal of Justice (STJ). STF ministers who have participated in programs at WCL include Ministers Gilmar Mendes, Teorí Zavascki, Cármen Lúcia, Luís Roberto Barroso and the current president of the STF, José Antonio Dias Toffoli. Visitors from the STJ have included Ministers João Otávio de Noronha, Luís Felipe Salomão, Paulo de Tarso Sanseverino, Ricardo Villas Bôas Cueva, Francisco Falcão, Marco Buzzi, Paulo Dias de Moura Ribeiro, Sebastião Reis Junior, Antonio Carlos Ferreira and Raul Araújo Filho. Another prominent Brazilian Judge to address an audience at the Law School was Federal Judge Sergio Moro, the trial judge handling the Operation Carwash (Lava Jato) case. Judge Moro was recently made Minister of Justice in the new administration of President Jair Bolsonaro.

Program Features

The Brazil-U.S. Legal and Judicial Studies Program coordinates seminars on various comparative law issues for Brazilian judges, legal professionals, academics, and students, and also assists those in the U.S. who wish to have comparable introductions to Brazilian law and Brazilian legal and judicial institutions. The Program has been able to engage, as co-lecturers, Brazilian lawyers and legal experts who reside and work in the Washington, D.C. region, as well as Brazilian professors and judges who frequently visit the city.

In addition to organizing events and initiatives, the Program collaborates with activities that already exist between AUWCL and Brazil in such areas as international commercial arbitration, intellectual property, environmental law and human rights.

Upcoming Events

February 27-28, 2020

The Sixth Annual Encounter of Brazilian & American Justices will consist of a seminar on Economic Analysis of the Law. As in the past, several high court justices, attorneys, public ministry and professors from Brazil as well as prominent American counterparts will participate. The anticipated key note speaker will be Minister Luiz Fux, Vice-President of Brazil’s Supreme Federal Tribunal, who is expected to assume the Presidency of the Tribunal in late 2020.

April, 2020

A one-week course on anti-corruption is scheduled for April 2020 for students from the Autonomous Faculty of Law of São Paulo (FADISP). This course will replicate similar courses given in the past for Brazilian judges and attorneys and will be coordinated by Judge Messitte and WCL Adjunct Professor Nancy Boswell.

July, 2020

Professor Cynthia Jones will coordinate a program for students from the Law Faculty of the Federal University of the Brazilian State of Espírito Santo. The program is expected to consist of an overview of the American legal system, with emphasis on the American criminal justice system.