The judge’s eyes glosses over the numerous people awaiting his decision. Below him, the prosecution slumps down, disheartened and tired. This would be the third time in his entire career that he will make these two words come to fruition. The decision to free a life or condemn it has been delicately placed on his hands—hands that have long been upholding the law to the letter. He mumbles the words to himself first and then finally to the crowd awaiting his ultimate decision.
Reynaldo G. Ros has been a practitioner of the law for 20 years, first as a prosecutor and then as a judge. Despite having retired from his law career last year, he remains to be a big personality, a symbol of experience and learning to those who have worked with him in the courtroom and in the classroom. Since the development of the Legal Management program in the University, he has been teaching Business Crimes and Procedures (CRIMBUS) and is, in fact, a proud pioneer of not just the subject but the program itself.
“It’s destiny,” is how Judge Ros describes his law career reaching its zenith when he became a judge. “After many years as prosecutor, I decided to file for judiciary. It’s better than being a prosecutor because [when] you’re in the judiciary, the prosecutors will face before you.” The responsibility heightens then, from defending a person’s life to dictating the whole course of it.
Many outside the world of law would associate their job as that of a wig-wearing, gavel-smashing figure of authority, but for those who live their lives in the courtroom, the judge is the impartial authority who decides the fate of cases and lives. They play many roles in the countless of cases that pass through the Regional Trial Court (RTC) and yet, one role still remains constant, whatever the case. Judges have always been holding lives in their hands and ultimately, they have always been the ones deciding what happens to those lives.
I’m just doing my job
While for most, a decision that literally involves the lives of individuals is hard to come by, the 20-year Judiciary veteran is adept in dealing with sentences both for life and at its minimum. Whether it’s a decision for life imprisonment or to merely impose a fine, Judge Ros takes pride in standing ground for whatever he feels is the right decision to make.
When asked if the conviction to imprison someone for the rest of his life carries any emotional recoil with him, he simply says, “I’m just doing my job. If that was the crime that was committed by the person, basing on the evidence I should convict him.” While his judgements as an RTR judge are never final as they could always be appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA), Judge Ros doesn’t mind whether or not his decisions are reversed or held so long as his conscience is clear and unwavering.
A master of nonporous judgement and an expert of unyielding wisdom, Judge Ros was never afraid to make the tough calls when needed, even when it meant danger to his wellbeing. Facing a diverse group of individuals from all walks of life never excused Judge Ros from threats and peril.
“Well as long as you do your job honestly in accordance with law and you do not prejudice anybody diba, that’s why I’m not afraid to let somebody be sentenced. It is only when, let us say, you commit an injustice, somebody might threaten me. As long as I am fair to the parties, I’m sure that nobody will do anything bad to me,” he explains.
Not in my chamber
Of the many things Judge Ros has accomplished over his career, none have been more meaningful than maintaining his well built reputation. It was never to protect an image of grandeur and esteem, but it was to procure a persona deserving of the respect of all lawyers who come to his court. Being a judge merits a certain form of reverence imperative to keeping matters clean, free of any foul play that may arise when lawyers are pushed to a corner.
“You have to maintain a reputation, because lawyers will know who are the judges that can be talked to. The moment they that the judge cannot be talked to, they will not try. That’s one of the things that I maintain during my entire life as a judge. ‘Oh! Huwag mong kausapin si Judge Ros (Don’t try talking to Judge Ros),” they say. Judge Ros says that lawyers of all kinds will always resort to sweet talking a judge. The more he could put his stamp against corruption, the better.
As a stern and principled person, Judge Ros makes it a point that his personal life will never interfere, much less influence, how he deals with justice and conviction. For friends and acquaintances of the former judge, they are no exception in being part of his character formation and the stature constructed for all lawyers to keep notice of.
“That is why you cannot, if you have a case, even if you are my classmate, I will not allow you to go to my chamber. I asked my staff whenever lawyers want to talk to me. If they want to see me, I go outside, but not going inside my chamber,” Judge Ros shares.
Man of integrity
A year after he retired from the Judiciary and the prosecutor world, Judge Ros now spends his days inspiring and teaching the future lawyers of DLSU, all with a grim formed fist and a nose for justice. Teaching his students to choose what is right amidst temptation to do otherwise is what he feels is the greatest lesson he could impart from his experiences in the ever-tantalizing world of law. From his days of being the gavel of conviction, Judge Ros was never some old stingy and estranged man. If anything, he was a man of integrity.