Project description

According to the Brazilian law, a judge cannot receive higher salaries than the ones received by judges the Supreme Court members, R$ 33,700 per month (or US$ 10,202) — which is already higher than the monthly income of 99% of Brazilians. However, it has long been known there are judges who have a monthly income above this value. This happens because there are many optional benefits that can be added to a judge’s salary.
Although there are transparency laws for the salaries of Brazilian civil servants, it was not until 2017 that the National Council of Justice forced all the courts in the country to make public the judges’ salaries. The first data was released in November 2017, but with two obstacles: there were separate tables for each of the country’s 87 courts, and the files were protected. So, despite the Council determination, it was still very difficult for a common citizen to handle the data made available. Nexo Jornal Data Team created a simple, didactic and attractive visualization for a data of great importance to understand the Brazilian judicial system.

What makes this project innovative?

Instead of presenting a view of individual salaries, Nexo’s data team made a piece centered on the percentage of judges who received above the salary cap. This differentiated Nexo’s coverage of other Brazilian outlets on the issue. The project shows, for example, that 73% of the Federal Regional Courts judges received incomes above the salary cap in November 2017.
The simple and didactic graphic is also innovative. In a flowchart, the piece explains to citizens who are not aware of the benefits system of the Brazilian Public Service how judges’ wages can reach such a high value.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

The piece was shared 363 times on Facebook and Twitter, according to Crowdtangle. It was among Nexo's 50 most viewed infographics in 2017.

Source and methodology

We used exclusive data provided by the National Justice Council, the organization responsible for the accountability of the Justice system in Brazil. The council released the payroll after pressures from the chief of the Supreme Court, judge Cármen Lúcia. However, many of the Office’s excel spreadsheets were locked to edit, causing problems to read the files. The files were scraped in the webpage and using a script we broke the protection to bind all data from the 87 courts in the same dataset.
We also gathered information from the Constitution, in the internal Justice rules and in resolutions of National Justice Council to understand how their earnings surpass the salary cap. The final visualization presented was also reviewed by a law specialist.

Technologies Used

R was used to scrap the files in the National Justice Council website, break cell protection in the sheets, for data processing and building the visualizations. The final layout and the Sankey at the top of the publication were made using Adobe Illustrator.

Project members

Gabriel Zanlorenssi - Data Scientist, Rodolfo Almeida - Infographist, Renata Rizzi - Editor

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