A COURT stenographer was jailed yesterday for direct contempt after indicating in her pleading that a judge owed a lending company money.

Beatriz Espartero, stenographer of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 24, was found by Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Judge Rosabella Tormis guilty of direct contempt.

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Tormis penalized Espartero for “filing a pleading that was not only irrelevant but filled with malice, and personally directed against the undersigned judge.”

Interviewed by reporters in her office before police officers brought her to the Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center, Espartero said Tormis’s decision was “too personal.”

Espartero said Tormis immediately ordered her arrest and detention because the judge was embarrassed when she disclosed in her pleading that she owed a lending company.

She said there was nothing derogatory in the motion for reconsideration she filed on a case handled by Tormis because what she stated there were “all true.”

Espartero said she is considering filing administrative charges against the judge for abuse of discretion either before the Cebu City RTC or the Supreme Court after serving her sentence.

SPO4 Mario Revilla and SPO4 Zenardo Pastoriano of the Fuente Police Station served the decision on Espartero past 3p.m. yesterday.

Revilla confirmed last night that they committed Espartero to the city jail late yesterday afternoon. She expected to be released this afternoon.

The case stemmed from a complaint for collection of P42,000 filed by Victor Yu, reportedly a moneylender, against Espartero. Last July 13, Judge Tormis directed Espartero to pay Yu the amount.

Espartero, however, filed a motion for reconsideration before Tormis and criticized her decision, even accusing the judge of bias. She said in her explanation that Tormis angrily threw the records of the case on her table.

She said that Tormis was the one who said that she also borrowed money from Yu. She said that the judge even told her she decided to transfer to another lending company because of the high interest rates Yu imposes on loans.

Espartero said it was public knowledge in the Palace of Justice who owed lending companies.

She said that because of the situation, she sought Tormis’s inhibition from her case “for delicadeza’s sake.”

“There is no legal ground of insisting to resolve this case as her trust and integrity are questioned by the defendant,” said Espartero.

However, Tormis said in her two-page order that “being a court employee, defendant should have known how to behave herself towards the court.”

“However, instead of showing respect and high regard to the court, defendant displayed arrogance, demeaning not only the presiding judge, but the court as well.”

Tormis said her decision was not out of vindictiveness but was done “to preserve the integrity of the court which has been maligned” by Espartero.

Tormis said the issues whether she borrowed money from a lending firm and sings psalms every mass at the Palace of Justice are “private matters” and have nothing to do with the case. Espartero referred to her “nice voice for the Lord” in her pleading.

By disclosing the issues in her pleading, Tormis said Espartero is “making it more clear that she has no respect to this court.”

Apart from one day of imprisonment, Tormis also ordered Espartero to pay P200 as fine for the offense committed.