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In a Stance (A collection of thoughts by a law student based on actual observation in court proceedings.

Foreword Who would have thought that one day in my life I would be in the halls of University of Iloilo (UI), a legendary university known for its noteworthy reputation in producing first-rate attorneys, some of them who became brilliant prosecutors and outstanding judges, not to mention the topnotch examinees of the BAR? Nevertheless, here I am striving to become one of the luckiest to surpass the arduous yet rewarding journey. The battle goes on as we all hurdle towards the goal. Initially, we must accomplish all the necessities, and one of those is the course in Practicum. Taken charge by our beloved remarkable professor, a brilliant man, one of the regions most prestigious figures, a prominent judge, and of course, a product of the renowned University of Iloilo, Honorable Judge Severino C. Aguilar. He required everyone in his class to carry out an observation in court proceedings as part of the requisites of the course. Every essential detail will be discussed herein subsequently.

There is always a first time for everyone. On August 4, 2011 at 8:00 in the morning, I was all set for my very first court observation experience. I felt nervous and at the same time excited as to what I would be witnessing that day. I imagined what it would be like to witness the actual proceedings and wondered how it would be different from what I have learned in theory and it thrilled me. I was with my group mates and most of them also admitted that it was their first time to observe court proceedings. It somehow alleviated my tension to know that and I was grateful that I did not have to feel that I was the only one who was going to witness such for the first time. We entered the courtroom of Honorable Judge Globert J. Justalero, presiding judge of Branch 32, Regional Trial Court, which also happens to be a family court. There we settled ourselves while waiting for the proceedings to begin. My heart started to pound again in excitement. I was even more exhilarated when the court interpreter asked everybody to rise as soon as the judge appeared from his chamber. The ecumenical

prayer was said and we were all seated as each of the cases was being called by the interpreter. The first case was for arraignment. Docketed as Criminal Case No. 11-69791, People vs. Abraham Solis, et al., the case was for robbery. The accused pleaded not guilty and was informed by the judge that he could no longer apply for probation due to the fact that he is a recidivist. He had been previously convicted for the crime of theft. The following case, People vs. Joey Lacaya y Badjao, was also for arraignment. Docketed as Criminal Case No. 11-69798-803, this was a case for six counts of rape. Accused was advised by the honorable court to plead guilty in order to be able to apply for probation. Meanwhile, the offended party was not present during that time and the arraignment was requested by counsel to be reset to September 8, 2011. Another case was set for pre-trial conference. Docketed as Criminal Case No. 10-68447, People vs. Joseph Bacero, et al., was a case for murder. Both parties agreed to engage in a plea bargaining in this case. However, while accused Joseph Bacero entered a plea of guilty, co-accused Rolando Parreno did not do so. It was said that both may not avail of the counsel de officio assigned to them if there is a conflict between their pleas. Thus, a re-arraignment was set on August 18, 2011. One case for initial presentation of prosecutions evidence was Criminal Case No. 10-68256, People vs. Edwin Coronado y Cabra. It was a case for child abuse or violation of R.A. 7610 which was eventually dismissed provisionally. This means that the case may be revived or filed again in court within two years. After hearing of the criminal proceedings (some of which were automatically reset due to absence of either parties or their respective counsels), the judge called for a short recess before hearing of the civil cases. We were then told by the judge that our presence in the civil proceedings was not allowed as requested by the petitioner of such proceeding for it was set for presentation of petitioners evidence. There were two civil cases set for hearing that morning and both were for declaration of nullity of marriage. Our group was no longer present when the court session resumed. It was quite an experience for a first-timer like me. I would like to point out that the judge seemed to be very kind, considerate and treated everybody equally. It seems that indeed judges are masters in the art of impartiality. However, I also noticed that during the

whole proceedings, I had a hard time listening to the judge as well as the lawyers and even to the parties in the cases because I could overhear the chattering despite the sign inside the courtroom which says Please Observe Silence. I am just grateful that I was able to listen to the important details.

Just cant get enough. On August 31, 2011 at 8:00 A.M., I decided to visit the courtroom of Honorable Judge Rene S. Hortillo, Branch 31, Regional Trial Court, in the hopes of getting more exposed through additional observation in trial proceedings. This time I was all by myself so I still felt a little nervous notwithstanding the fact that it was my second time already. There were only two cases scheduled on that day, both of which were criminal cases. The first one, Criminal Case No. 10-69199, People vs. Maria Chielo Sauro, was set for preliminary conference and pretrial for the case of qualified theft. The second case, People vs. Mary Grace Forteza, et al., docketed as Criminal Case No. 08-15861, was set for continuation of trial for the case of estafa. I waited and waited until such time that when the judge came, there was only one counsel present. The counsel for the plaintiff of the first case was there talking to his client. Meanwhile, the counsel for the accused phoned the clerk of court and called in sick and therein hearing was reset. As to the second case, it was likewise reset. Only one of the accused parties was present. The rest of the accused were not there either, the plaintiff did not show up, and neither of their respective counsels was present. I decided to leave before everybody left and considered of going back some other time so I would be able to observe an actual trial proceeding as well as promulgation of decision which I was very eager to witness in person.

Lets get this over and done with. Finally, on September 9, 2011 at 8:30 A.M., one of my group mates and I decided to observe court proceedings at Branch 24, Regional Trial Court. We asked the officer-in-charge if we were allowed to do

so and she permitted us. As we entered the courtroom of Region VI Executive Judge Danilo P. Galvez, I noticed that it was so quiet even though the court was not in session yet. My group mate and I were also thrilled upon seeing the name of one of our professors in the calendar of cases just right outside the door. It is always a students desire to actually see his or her professor arguing in court. That was a chance of a lifetime for us. I could not wait until I told my classmates about what I was about to witness. As the judge came in, and as the tradition goes, the interpreter prompted everybody to rise and led the ecumenical prayer. The judge then made a pounding sound with his gavel while announcing that the court was now in session and everybody were seated. Silence was maintained inside the courtroom as the first case was called. Criminal Case No. 05-60776, People vs. Joe Octavio, for the case of homicide was called on for the promulgation of decision. The judge handed the courts findings to the interpreter. The interpreter asked the accused to stand before the court as he read to him the decision. I noticed that before directly proceeding to the sentence there has to be a recap on how the proceedings went through from arraignment to trial. Of course, only the salient points were mentioned until the decision was reached. In this case, accused was found guilty for the crime of homicide and was sentenced to serve a minimum of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to sixteen (16) years. The counsel for the accused then informed the court that they were filing for an appeal and applied for bail. It shall be noted that accused herein has already enjoyed bail as a matter of right. It was then given by discretion of the honorable court that additional bail was required in the amount of 40,000 Php (as a result of the doubled amount required by the judge). The next case, People vs. Lerma Martelino, was also for promulgation of sentence. Docketed as Criminal Case No. 05-61273, this is a case for estafa. Just like the previous case, the interpreter promulgated the sentence with a summary of the case until the decision was read to the accused, who was found guilty and sentenced to an indeterminate imprisonment of four (4) years, two (2) months and one (1) day to eight (8) years and twenty (20) days. Accused was also asked by the court to return the unsold SM gift checks or the equivalent value. Thereafter, accused decided to appeal the case and apply for bail thus her counsel informed the court with which the judge required additional bail and doubled the amount from 10,000 Php to 20,000 Php.

The third case was for arraignment. Docketed as Criminal Case No. 11-69524, People vs. Le Jayme Jalbuna was a case for violation of Sec. 261 (q) of the Omnibus Election Code (B.P. 881) as implemented by Comelec Resolution No. 8737. Counsel for the accused asked to reset the hearing due to reason that the petition for review from the Secretary of Justice was asked as regards the issue on whether the court has jurisdiction to hear the case. The defendants contention was that the court lacks jurisdiction and hereby moves to quash the information in case the Secretary of Justice declares the court as having no jurisdiction to try such case. The judge then decided to reset the case for the last time and reminded both parties that generally the decision of the Secretary of Justice awaits until sixty (60) days and thereafter they may either proceed with the case, or otherwise, depending upon said decision. Likewise, Criminal Case No. 11-70170, was set for arraignment. People vs. Mark Mallon, et al. is a case for robbery. Accused pleaded not guilty and the court thereinafter set the date for trial. People vs. Alkeen Lej Felarca, docketed as Criminal Case No. 1169557, was next in line. This was a case for robbery with force upon things and was set for pre-trial. Accused was released on bail and trial was set on December. The next case was for violation of Sec. 2 (a) of R.A. 7832, People vs. Napoleon Robles, docketed as Criminal Case No. 11-69598. This case was likewise set for pre-trial. Accused was said to be under detention and that, according to his counsel, the same invokes his right to a speedy trial. The parties herein were supposed to have reached an amicable settlement but due to failure of accused to produce the amount asked by complainant for settlement, hence the proceedings wherein both parties agreed to engage in plea bargaining. The judge proceeded to the last criminal case to be heard that morning which happens to be the very case that my group mate and I were so excited about because of the presence of one of our finest professors, Atty. Eduardo N. Reyes, Jr.(who is also, by the way, a product of UI). This case was set for initial trial. The case of People vs. Francis Legaspi, docketed as Criminal Case No. 09-67174, was a case for attempted homicide with use of unlicensed firearm. What intrigued me more was the fact that Atty. Reyes was the counsel for the accused. By the time he spoke, I could not help but notice that his voice was so confident as well as his manner in a way that made him sound and look compelling. Indeed an experienced attorney. He was

asking for the honorable court to reset the hearing due to his clients absence. Sadly, that was all I could get. The hearing was reset on November fourth as the prosecution pointed out of the complainants requirement for the presence of the accused in such proceeding for purposes of identification. The courts session ended with a special proceeding. Docketed as Special Proceeding No. 11-10942, it was a petition for change of name/ correction of entries in the birth certificate of Marvin Alvarez Bonaubra, who is the petitioner himself. He was asking for the court to grant such petition and change his name into Marvin Alvarez instead. Counsel established jurisdiction of the court to hear such case after noting petitioners venture on forum shopping and therein proceeded to present all documents necessary marked as Exhibits A to H. Petition was then granted by the court. After having called all cases due that morning (some of which were automatically reset by the court due to either or both of the parties absence or their respective counsels), the judge asked everybody to stand up as he declared the court session adjourned and thereby customarily banged his gavel.

Wrapping Up Taking into account all these encounters which so have made me consider myself to be yet a proletarian in my undertaking, I am in awe of the duties of the counsel as well as the prosecutors, not to mention the scrupulous yet admirable task of the judges of the honorable court, which are far beyond reputable and dignifying. It makes me wonder whether certainly it would be my cup of tea after so many years of toil just as I can see the spark in the eyes of my professors, be they judges or attorneys.

Submitted to:

Hon. Judge Severino C. Aguilar

Professor (Practicum) Prepared by:

Jennifer D. Sabanal