JULY 28, 2005
Posted August 30, 2005

Ancelmo Gois, O Globo

Gois, a well-known columnist with the Rio de Janeiro daily O Globo, faced prosecution after his column revealed a dispute between two local judges.

In a February 27, 2004 column titled “Clash of Titans,” Gois wrote that Judge Francisco José de Asevedo had lost a civil lawsuit and been sentenced to pay damages of 170,000 reals (US$74,000) to Judge Tereza Cristina Sobral Bittencourt. Sobral had filed the suit, Gois said, after Asevedo accused her of corruption and issued a warrant for her arrest.

Judge Asevedo complained about Gois’s column to the Rio de Janeiro Attorney General’s Office, which in March 2004 opened and investigation, named Gois and the unidentified source for his column as co-defendants, and charged them with violating the secrecy of legal proceedings, according to local press reports. Prosecutors also asked Gois to disclose his source but he refused. If convicted, Gois could have faced between two and six years in prison.

According to local press reports, although a civil court initially ordered that the legal proceedings involving judges Asevedo and Sobral be conducted in secrecy, a higher court had revoked the order, thus allowing the court ruling against Asevedo to be published in the Rio de Janeiro State Court of Justice’s official journal and in its Web site.

On July 28, 2005, after Gois filed an injunction before a three-judge panel of the Rio de Janeiro State Court of Justice, the panel ordered the suspension of the criminal proceedings against him until it could gather more information.

On August 11, the three-judge panel voted 2 to 1 to dismiss the case against Gois, ruling that his actions did not constitute a crime. The panel’s ruling also recognized the journalist’s right to maintain the confidentiality of his sources.