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LICUP, Kristine Felva P.

September 15, 2015

Criminal Procedure (JD 205)


Court Observation: A Reaction Paper

Experience is the best teacher. Although clich, this is one of the


most famous maxims about learning that, without a doubt, rings true. Its
probably because experiencing a thing gives life to the words we read and
concretizes the theories we learn in the classroom; it paints the picture of
what is set out by our books.
For the past two weeks, we were tasked to go on an adventure to
experience what it is like to be in a courtroom while different criminal
proceedings were held. As an aspiring lawyer, I believe it was normal to be
all giddy about the activity. Despite being nocturnal, my excitement fueled
me to get up early and go to the Hall of Justice.
In the litigations Ive had the chance to observe, some cases were
more interesting than the others, some judges are sterner than the others, and
some lawyers come more prepared than their opposing counsels. As a
student of law, it was a thrill to see how lawyers carried themselves in the
courtroom and to imagine myself a few years from now, God-willing, to be
doing the same. Of the 14 criminal proceedings, I have considered some to
be standouts some by reason of being my first, others because I found it
having more action than the rest.
People v. Elma, et al. was the first arraignment that I ever attended. I
noticed how, after reading the complaint in English, the clerk of court
relayed the same to the accused by translating it in Bisaya in a less formal
and more conversational manner. I believe it was the most important part of
that proceeding because it allows the accused to fully understand why he is
called before the court. Without the translation of the complaint in a
language understood by the accused, the purpose of the arraignment, which
is to provide the accused with a reading of the crime with which he or she
has been charged, would not be carried out.
In what was supposed to be a Presentation of Evidence of the accused
in the case of People v. Calumen, Atty. Jason Bandal, counsel of the accused,
told the court that the Defense was resting its case because the accused
jumped bail. The Judge then set the date for the promulgation of judgment. I
wasnt able to really concentrate on the proceeding because I was too
preoccupied observing my friend, Kuya Jason, in action for the first time.
So after that hearing, I approached and conversed with Atty. Bandal to
discuss what happened and from our talk I learned that by jumping bail, the
accused waived his right to present evidence in his defense.
In People v. Pajantoy, Sr., I had two firsts my first time to witness a
plea bargaining and my first time to witness yet another friend, Kuya
Rommel (Mirasol), in action. In this case, the victims were said to have
stopped coordinating with the Prosecution. Atty. Mirasol asked for a plea
bargain that instead of attempted parricide, the charge be lowered to
attempted homicide, to which the Prosecution agreed. After the hearing, I

chanced upon Atty. Mirasol and found out that his client, Pajantoy, has
already ironed things out and reconciled with the victims who happen to be
his wife and daughter, thats why they are no longer interested to press
charges. He wanted to have this plea bargain so his client may have a shot to
being allowed to go on probation.
In People v. Aranas, I witnessed the private prosecutor said that his
client will withdraw the complaint with the only condition that a proof of the
written apology made by the accused be furnished for them. The Judge
ordered the private prosecutor to submit to the public prosecutor, Prosecutor
Icao, an Affidavit of Desistance immediately after he gets a copy of the
compromise agreement so the latter can file a Motion to Dismiss before the
court. Through this, I realized that in order to save people from wasting
money and time and spare the court from further docket-clogging, lawyers
should always opt for amicable settlement first and only when all other
peaceful out-of-court means are exhausted shall they suggest their clients to
bring the matter to court.
In People v. Teves, on the other hand, the trial was postponed because
the accused was not represented by a lawyer. It appears that the accuseds
lawyer manifested to withdraw from the case but consent was not yet given
by the accused. The Judge said that because of this, he is still the lawyer of
the accused in the eyes of the court; moreover, the Judge now asks for an
explanation from the said lawyer as to why he should not be sanctioned and
directed him to secure the accuseds conformity. She then explained to the
accused that in view of his right to have the assistance of counsel, the trial
had to be postponed. I was in awe of the Judge because aside from oozing
with beauty and looking as if she has had a drink in the Fountain of Youth,
she was also very fluent, and professional yet compassionate, especially
towards the accused.
But among the 14, my favorite is People v. Arado, et al. The hearing
was for the Presentation of Evidence in a case of homicide. Although not as
dramatic as what has been depicted in the movies, I found this hearing the
most exciting. I liked how lawyers of both sides came prepared. Atty.
Manuel Arbon, defense lawyer, nailed the hearing by destroying the
credibility of the Prosecutions witness. His questions were basic, but he
maneuvered and sewed them together to reveal the anomalies in the
witnesss statements. He raised the fact that the affidavit of the witness was
made three months after the incident, to which Atty. Herbert Timtim, private
prosecutor, objected, saying it was so because the case was not filed until
after the lapse of three months and the fiscal could not just preempt. It
became a favorite most probably because both sides were more interactive
with each other than the rest and because I would want to experience being a
counsel in a case as intense or even more intense that this one.
Above everything, I learned how important it is for law students to do
court observation because it is not only where we see the stories in our
books come alive, it is also a glimpse, if God wills, of what our tomorrow
might look like. #