As provided in the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code, Title 75, Philadelphia Traffic Court Bench presides over and adjudicates moving citations issued within the City and County of Philadelphia. It is composed of seven judges duly elected by the populace. Included among the judges is the Administrative Judge.
As of June, 2013, all Philadelphia Traffic Courts are closed and its functions will be turned over to the Philadelphia Municipal Court. New judges will be assigned and cases are currently being transferred.
A new proposal was announced Monday that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office would be assigned the responsibility for prosecuting traffic violations as part of its efforts to eradicate fraud in the troubled Traffic Court of the city.
According to Mayor Nutter and D. A. Seth Williams, here will be four city prosecutors with10 paralegals assigned to handle at least 500 cases a day. The transformation is intended shift to result in more uniformity to the results of cases plus an extra level of scrutiny. It is their hope that the system where police officers served the role of prosecutors.
Mayor Nutter will be amending the yearly budget of the city setting aside the amount of $800,000 for the new staff that needs the City Councils approval. He wanted to eliminate the old system and feels confident that this court will be erected from a corrupt justice system that gives true justice for all.
The proposal of Nutter was timely as it was announced on the day that selection of jury started in the federal trial of six former Traffic Court judges who were accused of running a serial of ticket-fixing scheme.
However, the trial was postponed until Wednesday as Robert F. Kelly of the U.S. District got sick and had to be replaced by Judge Lawrence F. Stengel. The jury selection resumes on Wednesday.
Nutter pointed out that Monday will recall a mockery to the standard of evenhanded justice as federal case culminates a series of scandals in Traffic Court.
In 2012, Pennsylvania Supreme Court appointed an independent report commissioned that discovered that the Traffic Court that had its home at Spring garden and Eighth Streets, had for many years been operating using double standards of justice – one for the well-connected, and another for everyone else.
Federal prosecutors revealed that judges regularly dismissed cases for friends and political allies that cost the city and state thousands of dollars in potential revenue coming from fines.
The new role of the district attorney in handling traffic violations results from the series of changes created since Traffic Courts were abolished by legislature last year and transferred its operations into a division of Municipal Court.
Only one of Traffic Court’s original judges was retained; so five new judges were appointed to hear cases involving disputed tickets.
Judge Gary S. Glazer of the Common Pleas Court was appointed to oversee the restructuring. He announced last Monday that the court’s transition was in progress.
He added that there are no specific rules on how to start a new court but they are all like learning to fly an airplane at the same that they are working on it.
Source: Philly Com