Press release from lawyer Cristiano Zanin Martins
- Attack on the practice of law and retaliation. Mr. Marcelo Bretas’s decision to authorize the invasion of my home and my law firm at Car Wash’s request can only be construed as another clear intimidation attempt on the part of the State against my work as a lawyer, which has long consisted in exposing the gaps in the Court System and the Rule of Law.
It is public and notorious that my practice in law has unveiled the arbitrariness committed by Car Wash, the spurious relations of its members with public and private entities and especially with foreign authorities. It has unmasked the lawfare and its tactics, as shown in relevant cases about to be tried by Brazil’s Superior Courts and the UN Human Rights Committee.
Judge Marcelo Bretas is clearly connected to President Jair Bolsonaro and his decision in this case is connected to the work developed in favor of a informer assisted by lawyers linked to Senator Flavio Bolsonaro. The situation speaks for itself.
2. Proof of services. According to a report prepared in 2018 by independent auditors, all services my firm has provided Fecomércio/RJ between 2011 and 2018 are properly documented in an auditable system and included 77 (seventy-seven) professionals and took 12,474 (twelve thousand, four hundred and seventy-four) hours of work. About 1,400 (1,400) petitions are filed in our system. In addition, in 2018, at the request of Fecomércio-RJ, we delivered a copy of all the material produced by our office in defense of the entity, proving the effective performance of the hired services. Also, the payments were processed internally by Fecomércio/RJ through its administrative and supervisory bodies and were all approved by the entity's assemblies — with members’ votes.
3. Nature of the services provided. Our 50-year-old firm, with recognized performance in the field, was hired in 2012 to provide legal services to Federação de Comércio do Rio de Janeiro (Fecomércio-RJ), a private entity which represents the thousands of entrepreneurs and traders of said State. The firm’s actions in favor of Fecomércio/RJ and also entities managed by law - Sesc-RJ and Senac-RJ - can be found in several lawsuits filed before the Court of Justice of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the Superior Court of Justice, the Federal Supreme Court, and also in pending proceedings at the Rio de Janeiro Prosecution Service along with other of the entity’s internal and external bodies. Our firm has acted personally and diligently before all judicial bodies.
Our law firm acted in a dispute of great proportions, classified as a “legal war” by some media outlets at the time, between Fecomércio/RJ and Confederação Nacional do Comércio (CNC), two private entities that represent entrepreneurs and traders. Each of them hired several law firms to act on the most diverse fronts on which the litigation developed.
4. Abuse of authority. Besides the unfair and illegal nature of authorizing the invasion of a law firm and the home of a lawyer who has been practicing the law for over 20 years fulfilling all his professional duties, this decision has clear traces of abuse of authority, because: (a) Mr. Marcelo Bretas is a federal judge, therefore, he doesn’t even have jurisdiction over payments made by private entities, such as Fecomercio/ RJ, or entities of Sistema S managed by it. The matter falls under jurisdiction of the State Courts, according to the wording of the law and precedents of the Superior Court of Justice; (b) the warrant was executed with the same spectacle inappropriate to any judicial decision of this nature, as I have been denouncing throughout my professional career, especially within the context of Operation Car Wash; (c) it was rendered and executed after I, while practicing the law, made serious denunciations against the performance of members of Operation Car Wash and on the verge of the Supreme Court to decide on some of the most relevant cases, which impacts the country legally and politically. Moreover, executing a search and seizure warrant right after receiving a complaint is completely illogical from a legal perspective — which shows the lack of any probable cause when it comes to the charges conveyed.
Moreover, this abuse of authority is not unheard of, since in 2016 Car Wash operation tried to turn our firm’s attorneys’ fees received from Odebrecht, for having won a lawsuit against the company, into suspicious amounts – having to admit the error later. In the same year, Car Wash authorized the interception of our firm’s main telephone extension in order to listen to conversations between our firm’s lawyers and the conversations I had with former President Lula as his lawyer. A serious attack against professional prerogatives and the right of defense. On top of that, in 2018 Car Wash unlawfully publicized amounts that our firm had received as fees for providing legal services.
All circumstances set out here will be taken to the appropriate national and international courts for those involved to be punished and for the restoration of my reputation and the reputation of my law firm, which are once again under attack from people who co-opted the power of the state for illegitimate purposes, in clear practice of lawfare – a nefarious phenomenon which has undermined democracy in Brazil and is currently undermining it in other countries.
São Paulo, September 9, 2020
Cristiano Zanin Martins