Police investigations and criminal actions involving members of the National Congress, government ministers and Federal Court of Accounts (TCU) ministers used to be judged by the Plenary of the Federal Supreme Court. However, with the implementation of Regimental Amendment n.º 49 of 2014, these cases started to be judged by the 1st and 2nd Panels, and the responsibility of the Plenary was only to analyze the cases involving the presidents of the Chamber of Deputies, of the Senate and the President of the Republic.
Last Wednesday, October 7th, the Federal Supreme Court unanimously decided that the Plenary should return to judge criminal actions and police investigations involving members of the National Congress and government ministers or Federal Court of Accounts (TCU) ministers. The Chief Justice of the Federal Supreme Court, Luiz Fux, justified the proposal by pointing out the decrease in the number of investigations and criminal actions analyzed in the Supreme Court in the last years.
Police operations as Lava Jato, for example, will no longer be under the competency of the 2nd Panel and should be from now on judged by the Plenary. There are those who claim that Fux was trying to stop the defeats that Lava Jato has suffered in the 2nd Panel in the last years, once the Chief Justice is an upholder of the operation (and of the fight against corruption, as mentioned by him in his inaugural speech). With the new rule, a greater number of votes is needed to benefit the defendants or the investigated individuals.
The Plenary, with this change, may be even more overwhelmed, for the trial of criminal actions and analysis of indictment used to last an entire session in the 1st and 2nd Panels. With a greater number of ministers to vote, trials will take longer and processes that question laws or appeals with general repercussions on administrative, economic, labor issues, among others, will have less time to be discussed.
The only one who expressed reservations about the proposal was Gilmar Mendes, who questioned the fact that Fux did not present a text to the proposal and did not give advance notice of the vote.