If I had to name a favorite court, I would never hesitate to name the Regional Trial Court – Branch 6 of Agusan del Sur as “it”.
In almost seven years of practice across the courts in the neighboring cities and municipalities of Butuan City, this court is the b-e-s-t. By far, I thought the City Courts in Surigao City were the courts to beat, but, that was before I appeared in RTC-6 .
I had heard fellow kompanyeros sing praises for this court but when I opened the door and stepped inside, I was not prepared for the majesty that stood in front of me.
Outside this prestigious court, two security guards are posted at its doors where they perform security procedures for those who wish to go in. These guards also let them register in the logbook and get their basic information (lawyers exempted).
The court was immensely huge. If I compare it with the average court I have been to, its size is approximately times four of the latter (er, times 2 of Surigao’s). I took the picture above at the entrance – notice how far the bench (or the judge’s chair) is? That’s how big it is (gosh, you can barely see the bench, huh?).
The court was elegant. Since this was Agusan del Sur, every furniture in the court uniformly boasts of fully varnished high caliber hard wood – from the bench, down the bar then to the gallery.
The entire room was carpeted and very well ventilated by a floor-stand-type air conditioner. If you should know, our courts in the Philippines are not air-conditioned – so just imagine how roasted the lawyers feel in their suits. In this area alone, I felt heaven, especially that I was dressed in black which is known to absorb heat.
This court had sufficient room for the witness stand, and individual desks for the stenographer, the court interpreter and the clerk of court. There’s even one for the bailiff who actually sat down at his place during the whole session (doesn’t happen here).
The bar was quite impressive too – not just make-shift or an imaginary barrier (like some courts I know) but one which is actually very definitely visible and gets the message across that the area is off limits for the general public. The “bar” is actually the barrier, dividing the entire court into two. Only lawyers get to enter the bar (rier), and up further is the bench (where the judge sits).
Sitting in the bar was comfortable. In some courts, I have to sit on defective chairs which could collapse by my tiniest movement. Since the average courts are small, members of the bar had to sit at the gallery and mix with the spectators and the many accused until there’s a vacant seat up front. Here, there was a very lonnngggg table with sturdy chairs enough to accomodate all lawyers present.
Disregarding its physical aspect, I also like this court because of the presiding judge. There are judges who don’t even know what the lawyers are arguing about, but this judge studies before he enters the courtroom. He is intelligent and he knows his law (believe me, there are also “dumb” judges!). He knows the case like the back of his hand. In fact, he is well recognized to be hardworking and straight. He cannot be maneuvered by the delaying tactics of the parties. He takes active control in the proceedings of the case. I was sickish on my second appearance at his court, but since I know his reputation, I proceeded and attended the trial because I was afraid he might admonish me for not filing the proper motion (which should be at least three days before schedule – I got sick the day before). Well, he is coincidentally the father-in-law of a close friend, but this makes it harder for me because he might think I’m abusing him when I don’t comply with the rules.
It’s not everyday that I get to appear in this kind of court. I actually felt like I was out of the country in there (oh yes, it looked like the courts in the Western TV Dramas). I hope other courts eventually transform like this in the future (hmph, there was already a plan to expand our city courts here but since we changed congressmen, the complete plan vanished into thin air, pfft!).