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.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

10 green ideas for New York City this…

This Earth Day, pundits share their ideas to better green New York City.

Local

Carriage horse activists picket Liam Neeson's UWS home

Several dozen picketers lined the sidewalk outside of Liam Neeson's Upper West Side apartment building on Saturday to protest the actor's support of the New…

Local

Former cop shoots wife in front of children…

Former cop Kevin Canty, 43, was arrested over the weekend after police say he shot and killed his wife in their Ozone Park home.

Local

Two young children killed in deadly Queens fire

Two 4-year-old children died after a blaze at their Far Rockaway home on Saturday night. The Queens fire injured three others, including a third sibling.

Television

'Orphan Black' recap: Episode 1, ‘Nature Under Constraint…

Welcome to your first Season 2 “Orphan Black” recap! Hopefully Tatiana Maslany can help Tatiana Maslany get through this, with the help of Tatiana Maslany,…

Books

Poems from prison: 'How to Survive a Bullet…

Celebrate National Poetry Month with, "'How to Survive a Bullet to the Heart."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

NBA

Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.

Parenting

Is camp right for introverts?

We ask an expert for tips on sending your introverted child to camp

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.