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Brazilian Supreme Court's 1st black judge presides over his last session as he retires early

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SAO PAULO — The only black to ever serve on Brazil's top court presided at his last session as president of the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Joaquim Barbosa, 59, announced his early retirement a month ago.

PHOTO: FILE - In this  Nov. 22, 2012 file photo, Brazil's Supreme Court President Joaquim Barbosa smiles during his inauguration ceremony at the Supreme Court in Brasilia, Brazil. Barbosa, Brazil's first and only black top court justice, is presiding over his last session as president of the Supreme Court on Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Barbosa announced his early retirement one month ago. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 22, 2012 file photo, Brazil's Supreme Court President Joaquim Barbosa smiles during his inauguration ceremony at the Supreme Court in Brasilia, Brazil. Barbosa, Brazil's first and only black top court justice, is presiding over his last session as president of the Supreme Court on Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Barbosa announced his early retirement one month ago. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres, File)

Barbosa presided over a high-profile corruption trial in 2012 that sent more than 20 people to jail in a congressional payoff scheme.

The trial made him a household name in Brazil and he was frequently mentioned as a potential presidential candidate, but he said he had no desire to run for elective office.

Barbosa was appointed in 2003 by then-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to be the first black justice on the high court in a country where more than half the 192 million people identify themselves as having African descent.

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