Sunday, April 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Plenty of candidate interest in Traffic Court, which may be abolished

Philadelphia's Traffic Court may be nearing extinction but that hasn't deterred interest in three open seats. As of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, the first day to start circulating nominating petitions to get on the May 21 primary ballot, 45 potential candidates had picked up petitions at the Philadelphia City Commission offices in City Hall.

Plenty of candidate interest in Traffic Court, which may be abolished

Philadelphia Traffic Court at Eighth and Spring Garden Streets was in session Thursday, but some of the judges hearing cases were from out of town. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)
Philadelphia Traffic Court at Eighth and Spring Garden Streets was in session Thursday, but some of the judges hearing cases were from out of town. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

Philadelphia's Traffic Court may be nearing extinction but that hasn't deterred interest in three open seats.  As of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, the first day to start circulating nominating petitions to get on the May 21 primary ballot, 45 potential candidates had picked up petitions at the Philadelphia City Commission offices in City Hall.

The state Senate last week voted to abolish Traffic Court after all but one of the judges there were indicted in a federal investigation into ticket fixing as political favors.  That means this could be the last election year for Traffic Court judges. 

State Sen. Dominic Pileggi, a Delaware County Republican and the Senate's majority leader, introduced one bill that would eliminate the three open Traffic Court seats. Another Pileggi bill deletes Traffic Court from the state Constitution.  Both bills were approved by the Senate last week. The legislation moves traffic cases to Philadelphia's Municipal Court, where they would be heard by hearing examiners.

The bill to change the Constitution, because it requires approval in two legislative sessions and then approval of voters in a statewide ballot, can't take effect until May 2015 at the earliest.  The bill to eliminate the three Traffic Court seats would take effect as soon as the state House approves it and the governor signs it into law.  Traffic Court judges do not have to be attorneys. They are paid $91,052 per year.

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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