Pa. Senate Passes Legislation to Eliminate Phila. Traffic Court

, The Legal Intelligencer


The state Senate passed two bills Wednesday that would eliminate the Philadelphia Traffic Court. The move comes just one day after two former judges of the court entered guilty pleas to ticket-fixing and less than two weeks after seven other judges also were charged by federal prosecutors with ticket-fixing.

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What's being said

  • J

    The Pa Constitution states that the Governor shall appoint a President Judge of the Traffic Court. Traffic Court shall have Exclusive Jurisdiction of all Summary Traffic matters. Traffic Court is not a 'Division' of the Common Pleas Court nor part of the Municipal Court. Common Pleas Judges can be assigned to Municipal Court if the work load requires but there is no Constitutional authority to assign any CP or Municipal Judges to Traffic Court. Anything less than a Constitutional Amendment will be a major problem. However, it did not stop the system from taking cases away from the Traffic Court and giving them to the Parking Authority rather than preserving the right of the Defendant to affirmatively opt out of Traffic Court and go the Civil route in the Parking Authority. Let us see what someone loses: Standard of Proof, Self Incrimination, Right to Confront Witnesses, In Rem versus In Personam, 'Hearing Officers' Passing a test by the AOC to confirm knowledge of the law, Statutes of Limitation, Right of De Novo Appeal, Creation of a proper Record, Creation and the adherence to the Rules of (Due Process) Procedure, Ticket versus a Citation - See PARCP 401 and in particular the Comments Section. Maybe if the Traffic Court were one run by Judges who are attorneys this might have been less likely to have occured. Anyone who has ever gone to Traffic Court for a client, family member, voter (City Committee/Ward Leader friend) or for themselself knows that every ticket has some flaw that could legally justify dismissal! Changes made in haste or power plays create bigger problems. Management says it best - A Camel is a Race Horse put together by a Committee. This idea will not go the distance and more likely should not even leave the gate!

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