White-Collar Crime

Traffic ticket-fixing charges levied against 'the whole court' in Philadelphia

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Saying that “a widespread culture of giving breaks on traffic citations to friends, family, the politically connected and business associates” prevails in Philadelphia traffic court, federal prosecutors on Thursday moved to indict what one former judge, using hyperbole, described as “the whole court” in a ticket-fixing case, according to the Associated Press and the Philadelphia Daily News.

In fact, those facing charges include most of the court’s current judges and some former judges, the Daily News reports. A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania lists the nine current and former judges, one court clerk and two businessmen charged in the 77-count indictment and discusses the case against them. Three of the judicial defendants are from suburban Philadelphia counties.

In addition to charges related to the alleged ticket-fixing conspiracy, three of the judicial defendants also face perjury charges.

A former federal prosecutor appointed by the state supreme court in late 2011 to serve as the administrator of the troubled traffic court said he was not surprised by the indictments, CBS Philly reports.

“This court has unfortunately become the whoopee cushion of the judicial process in this city,” said Judge Gary Glazer. He said widespread change is needed, calling for, among other measures, better methods off selecting and educating traffic court judges. It may make sense, he has said, simply to eliminate traffic court.

An earlier CBS Philly post provides additional details about Glazer’s appointment.

The AP noted that the traffic court judges aren’t lawyers and aren’t required to have a high school diploma.

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