The Center for the Advancement of the Rule of Law in the Americas (CAROLA) is a research institution focused on Latin American law and policy. CAROLA seeks to create an open forum, in which issues concerning rule of law can be discussed, in order to understand the laws and legal system in the region.
CAROLA builds on the Law Center's international reputation by conducting symposia and talks, in which experts in both the academic and practical arenas of rule of law and judicial reform can address the issues and challenging problems facing these reform efforts.
HERÁCLITO FONTOURA SOBRAL PINTO
An attorney's willingness to defend unpopular clients, no matter how unacceptable or even abhorrent he or she finds their views to be and no matter what the personal cost is one of the ennobling marks of the profession. In Brazil the lawyer best known and most honored for his dedication to this code of responsibility is Heráclito Fontoura Sobral Pinto (1893-1991).
Born in the state of Minas Gerais, Sobral Pinto studied law in Rio de Janeiro and spent his entire career there, first as a prosecutor and then as an advocate for criminal defendants. His name soon became synonymous with uncompromising commitment. Guided by a sense of morality, a belief in the worth of the individual and a dedication to equal justice under law - principles that derived from his strong Catholic faith - he did not hesitate to represent such controversial figures as Luiz Carlos Prestes, the legendary Communist insurgent; Harry Berger, a German working for the Comintern (Communist International) in Brazil; green-shirted militants belonging to the fascist Integralist Movement; and members of Brazil's German community prosecuted during World War II.
He also was an outspoken critic of the authoritarian regimes of Getúlio Vargas (1935-1945) and the military officers who ruled Brazil after the coup in 1964. He defended with his usual vigor political figures whose civil rights were infringed and nine members of a Chinese Communist mission arrested shortly after the coup because they were carrying what was perceived as a large amount of money. As a result of this legal work he was imprisoned for three days in 1968.
The Brazilian legal profession has heaped many honors on Sobral Pinto, whose name now adorns the lawyers' chambers at the Supreme Court in Brasília. CAROLA adds its voice to the encomia and takes great pleasure in hailing this extraordinary advocate.
[For additional information, see John W.F. Dulles, Sobral Pinto, "The Conscience of Brazil " (Univ. of Texas Press, 2002).]