State rep. introduces bill to reform Philadelphia Traffic Court

Philadelphia Traffic Court
Rikard Larma/Metro. The most recent scandal to hit Philadelphia’s Traffic Court is a ticket-fixing scheme that led to the indictment of nine judges.

State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas, D-181, has introduced legislation that would reform Philadelphia Traffic Court in the wake of numerous charges of judicial misconduct recently brought against the body.

The latest scandal to hit the embattled court was the indictment earlier this year of nine former and current Traffic Court judges in connection with a wide-ranging ticket fixing scheme.

“I am as angry as the state Supreme Court and others about the state of affairs at Traffic Court under both Democrat and Republican administrations,” Thomas said in a statement. He wants to change the Traffic Court from its current seven judge makeup to a court presided over by one president judge and six masters.

“Traffic Court sees a high volume of cases annually and is one of the minor courts in the First Judicial District. However, it is not presided over by lawyers, but by individuals who are elected and can pass a qualifying exam. Under current law, there are no educational requirements to serve as a traffic court judge. One needs only to be 21 years of age, live in Philadelphia and mount a successful campaign to secure the position that wields some degree of authority.”

Thomas’ proposal would mandate that Traffic Court masters be residents of Philadelphia for at least four years before running for election and that they pass a certification examination and meet minimum ethics training requirements. Thomas also wants masters to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, no outstanding parking or moving violations, a valid driver’s license  and no prior convictions of criminal offenses higher than a summary.

Thomas’ legislation would further strip Traffic Court of its power, allowing masters only to conduct hearings, then present their to the Municipal Court for further action.

“There is no need to destroy Traffic Court because of a history of corruption,” Thomas said. “My proposal would streamline all cases before Traffic Court without placing an undue burden upon Municipal Court. It would continue as an administrative court with final conclusions of law being made by Municipal Court. Hopefully this would address allegations of judges making and accepting third-party requests for preferential treatment.”

Unlike other proposals introduced in the Senate – which include a bill introduced by Senator Dominic Pileggi that would dismantle Traffic Court altogether – Thomas’ proposed legislation does not require a constitutional amendment and could be enacted during the present two-year legislative session. Pileggi’s bill, should it become law, would not be enforced until 2015.


Turkey: Voting begins in country's first direct presidential…

Some 53 million people are able to vote in the election, including 2.8 million citizens abroad. Until now, Turkish presidents were elected by parliament.


Libya seeks ceasefire as south Tripoli a militia…

By Patrick Markey and Aziz El YaakoubiTRIPOLI (Reuters) - Black plumes of smoke marked shell blasts and bulldozed earthen barricades mapped out the frontlines around…

Breaking: News

Russia mad about sanctions, says U.S. contributing to…

Russia reacted angrily on Saturday to additional sanctions imposed by the European Union over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis, saying they would hamper cooperation…


Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking


Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.


Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…


Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.


Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.


2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…


Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.


Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.


Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.


Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.