Justice Dias Toffoli takes office as president of the TSE

Justice Dias Toffoli took office as president of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) during a formal sitting held at the Plenary of the Court in Brasília on May 13.

Justice Dias Toffoli took office as president of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) during a formal sitting held at the Plenary of the Court in Brasília on May 13. He will serve a two-year term and will be responsible for the monitoring of the 2014 General Elections. Because of a previously scheduled appointment, the elected vice-president of the TSE, Justice Gilmar Mendes, could not attend the inauguration of Justice Dias Toffoli nor take oath of office, which he will do in due course. Justice Marco Aurélio was the host of the inauguration ceremony.
The board of the formal sitting was composed by all Justices of the TSE, along with president Dilma Rousseff; vice-president Michel Temer; the president of the Federal Senate, Renan Calheiros; the president of the Chamber of Deputies (House of Representatives), Henrique Eduardo Alves; the vice-president of the Federal Supreme Court (STF), Justice Ricardo Lewandowski; the Federal Electoral Prosecutor, Rodrigo Janot; and the president of the Federal Council of the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB), Marcus Vinicius Furtado Coêlho.
After the national anthem was played, Justice Dias Toffoli took the oath of office, signed a declaration of acceptance of office and delivered a speech already as the president of the TSE. Justice Dias Toffoli presented an overview of the history of voting rights and democracy in Brazil covering the colonial period, the Empire, the First Brazilian Republic, the Revolution of 1930, the establishment of the Electoral Court System (1932), the New State years (“Estado Novo”), the establishment of a new and definitive TSE (1945), the elections of 1945, the administration of Jânio Quadros (1960), the military rule (1964-1985), and the promulgation of the Federal Constitution of a democratic state ruled by the law (1988).
Justice Dias Toffoli noted that Brazil has been experiencing the longest period of democratic stability in its history since 1989. He pointed to the latest achievements of the Brazilian society, including the organization of clean elections and the use of electronic voting machines, the adoption of instruments that help prevent abuse of political, administrative and economic power, the implementation of citizens´ initiatives, the enactment of an electoral law that adds to ongoing efforts to curb vote-buying, and the promulgation of the Clean Record Act.  
When addressing the challenges ahead, the president of the TSE emphasized that the Electoral Court System should adapt to new media and technologies. He affirmed that new media and social networks have “expanded the spaces occupied by the public arena, and that calls for different forms of popular participation”.
In his closing remarks, the president of the TSE praised the administration of his predecessor, Justice Marco Aurélio, and thanked the attendance of authorities and officials. After the ceremony was over, Justice Dias Toffoli met with authorities and guests at the lobby next to the Plenary of the Court.
Court Justices
Justice João Otávio de Noronha, speaking on behalf of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), noted that Justice Dias Toffoli would take office as president of the TSE during the national preparations for the general elections, to be held in October. “We all bear witness to his enterprising mindset, his sensitive soul as a judge, qualities that have ultimately led him to devote his life to judicature”, he said.
According to Justice João Otávio de Noronha, the performance of Justice Dias Toffoli at the Federal Supreme Court (STF) indicates that he is “a forward-thinking judge who is ahead of his time, who has no fear in being the dissenting voice when entering judgments, moments in which it is impossible not to notice the strength of his views and opinions. His votes carry the logic and the reasoning of a sensible man, a thoughtful judge”.
He also stated that Brazilians should go to the polls in October “unafraid to expose a country that has undeniably reached the early years of its democratic maturity”. He said that the administration of Justice Dias Toffoli will help the Electoral Court System “strengthen the dialogue channels with the citizens, fostering the process of participatory democracy, which is of paramount importance for all of us”.
Prosecution Office
Rodrigo Janot, Brazil´s federal electoral prosecutor, said that Justice Dias Toffoli will be responsible to administrate the Electoral Court System during this year´s elections, which are preceded by the 2013 mass demonstrations.
“Except for the inadmissible acts of violence that occurred back then, Brazilians who peacefully took to the streets to protest helped change the routine of the Judicial Branch, defining the agenda of the governing authorities and inspiring young citizens to build a better country”, he said.
He noted that the Prosecution Office would play an important role during the elections, and that it was responsible for ensuring a level playing field for running candidates. He added that the prosecution had autonomy to conduct independent investigations.  
“We expect both the Judicial Branch and the Prosecution to adopt consistent procedures to effectively fight electoral crimes. The consolidation of our democratic state depends on that”, he concluded.
Marcus Vinícius Furtado Coêlho, the President of the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB), spoke on behalf of Brazilian lawyers and underlined that Justice Dias Toffoli had a deep knowledge of law and would efficiently administrate the Court, “paving the way for the coming general elections”.
According to Marcus Vinícius, the OAB “is deeply committed to ensuring the implementation of the Federal Constitution and will engage in conversations with the president of the TSE and his peers at any time with a view to collaborating to the mission of the Electoral Court System”.
Event attendants
The formal sitting was attended by former Brazilian president José Sarney; retired Justices of the Federal Supreme Court (STF); senator Aécio Neves; former governor of the State of Pernambuco Eduardo Campos; presidents, justices and former justices of superior courts and of Regional Electoral Courts (TREs); members of the Federal Prosecution Office and of State Prosecution Offices; and state governors. Event attendants also included members of the National Council of Justice (CNJ); state ministers; members of the Federal Court of Accounts (TCU); of the Office of the General Counsel to the Federal Government (AGU); of the Office of the Federal Public Defender; congressmen and women; employees of the TSE and other courts; members of diplomatic corps; civil, military and ecclesiastical authorities; lawyers; scholars and journalists.
Born in Marília (SP), Justice Dias Toffoli graduated in Law at the University of São Paulo (USP) in 1990. He completed a graduate degree program in Electoral Law and has taught courses in Constitutional Law and Family Law for ten years. He took office as General Counsel to the Federal Government on March 12, 2007, after having worked at the Sub-office of Legal Affairs under the Office of the President´s Chief of Staff between 2003 and 2005.
He took office as Justice of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) on October 23, 2009, having been appointed by former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to occupy the seat that vacated after the death of Justice Carlos Alberto Menezes Direito.
At the TSE, he was appointed to serve as judge-rapporteur of resolutions aimed at regulating the General Elections of 2014. In April 2013, Justice Dias Toffoli joined an UNASUR Electoral Mission and performed the duties of an international observer, monitoring the elections in Venezuela and Paraguay.
He represented the TSE at the 5th Ibero-American Conference on Electoral Justice, held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on October 2-4, 2013. The event was attended by members from electoral bodies of 20 Ibero-American countries.
In December 2013, he also oversaw Chile´s presidential runoff vote. Later, in February 2014, he joined the Election Observation Mission that had been sent to monitor general elections in Costa Rica.
Composition of the TSE
The TSE is composed of at least seven permanent Justices. Three of them are selected among the members of the Federal Supreme Court (STF), one of which will chair the TSE; two are selected among the members of the Superior Court of Justice (STJ), one of which will serve as the head of the Disciplinary Board of the Electoral Court System; and two are practicing attorneys appointed by the President of the Republic.