Federal judges earn trinkets for length of service and can pocket up to R$ 2 million

administrative and supervisory body, the Federal Justice Council (CJF) reestablished a salary benefit for judges in this branch of the Judiciary that had been extinguished 16 years ago. Known as the quinquennium, the automatic 5% increase in salaries every five years will again fall on the paychecks of those who entered the federal career until 2006. The measure also provides for the retroactive payment of the pendant with correction for inflation.

The council claims not to have an estimate of the financial impact of the decision taken on the 16th of this month. Only members of the Federal Court are covered – the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Labor Courts and State Courts do not respond to the body. According to the projection of the legislative consultant of the Senate Luiz Alberto dos Santosmade at the request of Estadãoa judge sworn in in 1995, for example, may receive R$ 2 million in arrears.

O Additional service time (ATS) and a series of advantages that were left out of the ceiling were eliminated by the National Council of Justice (CNJ) – control body of the entire Judiciary. At the time, the magistrate’s salary was limited to R$ 21,000, equivalent to what ministers of the Federal Court of Justice (STF). Today, the ceiling is BRL 39.3 thousand, and, if Congress approves the 18% adjustment requested by the Court, it will reach BRL 46.3 thousand.

Supreme ministers approved an 18% increase in salaries;  still under analysis in Congress, the readjustment would raise the ceiling to R$ 46.3 thousand
Supreme ministers approved an 18% increase in salaries; still under analysis in Congress, the readjustment would raise the ceiling to R$ 46.3 thousand Photograph: Andréia Bohner

In May of this year, the Senate resumed debate to resurrect the ATS above the ceiling on the payrolls of judges and attorneys alike. It was a technical note by Santos that alerted the impacts of the proposed amendment to the Constitution (PEC) that recreates the benefit in a more comprehensive way – R$ 7.5 billion annually. Left aside in the legislative route, the additional now returns to part of the federal judiciary through the administrative route.

The CJF responded to a request from the Association of Federal Judges (Help). The entity argues that the additional could not have been canceled for judges who had the alleged right acquired before the decision of the CNJ. The entity used as a basis STF precedent that benefited civil servants and considered that the bonus should continue to be valid for those who already received it.

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Responsible for judging the demand, the CJF is a collegiate formed in part by members of the Federal Justice itself. The body is composed of ministers of Superior Justice Tribunal (STJ) and federal judges.

Rapporteur of the case and president of the STJ and the CJF, Maria Thereza de Assis Moura voted against the request. According to the minister, in the case cited as precedent, “the plaintiff was a retired state employee who did not receive his benefit under the subsidy regime”, which, adopted in the judiciary, provides for payment in a single installment, without bonuses and additional payments.

The president of the Federal Regional Court of the 6th Region (TRF-6), Monica Sifuentes, in turn, opened divergence. The judge stated that the implementation of the subsidy regime should not eliminate the additional, which she pointed out as one of the “acquired rights and legal acts formally and materially” in force since the previous model.

Not rare (the bodies of magistrates) obtain decisions favorable to the recognition of the payment of indemnities (on boards)🇧🇷 That is, they recognize themselves a right and the way to satisfy it

Rafael Viegas, Justice system researcher at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV)

Sifuentes’ thesis won by seven to four. According to the decision, the “reintroduction” of the additional to the “payroll was established, in a separate installment, subject to correction by the same subsidy readjustment indexes, and the payment, respecting the remuneration ceiling of the public service”. In a note distributed to the magistrates shortly after the end of the session in the council, the entity that authored the request states that the case is a “historic victory for Ajufe and the federal judiciary”.

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Benefits granted by administrative means are the target of criticism. As shown the Estadão in April, the associations resort to the control bodies to get financial advantages🇧🇷 Justice system researcher at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), Rafael Viegas stated that the entities operate in a “gray zone, which does not separate the public interest – the State – from what is the private interest – its associates”.

According to Viegas, when the entities’ lobbying fails in Congress, they provoke the councils or Justice itself, “a structure” that they try to “control through their composition”. “Not rare (the entities) obtain decisions favorable to the recognition of the payment of indemnities. That is, they recognize themselves a right and the way to satisfy it, ”he said.

In the way the decision was handed down, I see it as unlawful. It is purely administrative in nature. And it tends to be extended to labor magistrates, by the equivalent body of the Labor Court

Luiz Alberto dos Santos, legislative consultant to the Senate

To Estadão, the CJF states, in a note, that “there will be no economic effect in the months in which the magistrate is accumulating collections”. The measure, however, sets a precedent. “In the way the decision was handed down, I see it as illicit. It is purely administrative in nature. And it tends to be extended to labor magistrates, by the equivalent body of the Labor Court (the Superior Council of Labor Justice)”, said Santos, legislative consultant to the Senate.

In a note, Ajufe states that the request “was based on the understanding of the STF that all Brazilian judges must have equal treatment🇧🇷 “By this understanding, federal judges are guaranteed all the rights guaranteed to State Justice magistrates, as well as the opposite”, says the association.

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By this understanding (of equal treatment among Brazilian magistrates)federal judges are guaranteed all the rights guaranteed to magistrates of State Justice, as well as the opposite

Association of Federal Judges (Ajufe), in a note

Ajufe claims that any salary in the judiciary is limited to the ceiling. “In addition, the amounts due to beneficiaries will be subject to all taxes due, especially contributions to Social Security and Income Tax.”

  • The Additional for Length of Service (ATS) corresponds to a 5% readjustment every five years
  • In 2006, the ATS was extinguished by the National Council of Justice (CNJ)
  • In 2013, the then senator Gim Argello (at the time in the PTB-DF) presented a PEC that foresees the return of the ATS, without respecting the ceiling
  • In 2022, the PEC entered the Senate agenda, but was not voted on
  • Study by the Senate Legislative Consultancy shows that the impact of the PEC would be BRL 7.5 billion per year
  • Unsuccessful in Congress, federal judges obtained an administrative decision via the Federal Justice Council (CJF)
  • The decision meets the request of the Association of Federal Judges (Ajufe), benefits those who were in the career since before 2006 and provides for respect for the ceiling
  • Neither the CJF nor the Ajufe know how to specify the budgetary impact of the measure

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