Friday, July 31, 2015

Judge won't order state to reinstate Chesco magistrate in ticket-fixing case

A federal judge says she won't order the state Supreme Court to reinstate a Chester County magistrate judge who was suspended without pay after being charged with fixing tickets at Philadelphia's Traffic Court.

Judge won't order state to reinstate Chesco magistrate in ticket-fixing case

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A federal judge says she won’t order the state Supreme Court to reinstate a Chester County magistrate judge who was suspended without pay after being charged with fixing tickets at Philadelphia’s Traffic Court.

In a ruling handed down Monday, U.S. District Judge Anita Brody turned aside judge Mark Bruno’s request  for a temporary injunction that would have allowed him to keep getting paid as a district judge in West Chester, a post he has held since first winning election in 1998.

In a lawsuit filed in March, Bruno contended that the state's highest court violated his right to due process by suspending him without a hearing, and questioned the justices' authority to do so. Bruno called himself "an extremely hardworking" and respected jurist who has been unable to pay bills or find work since being removed Feb. 1

But in a 14-page ruling, Brody said there was no evidence that Bruno had been denied, or even sought, a hearing on his suspension by the state judiciary. Unless or until he does, she said it was unlikely he would succeed in proving his rights were violated, one of the standards necessary for an injunction.

Bruno was one of nine current and former judges charged in January with fixing Philadelphia tickets for friends and the politically connected. He was only an occasional member of the bench, filling in about once a year when permanent Traffic Court judges were away on training. Three have pleaded guilty and the rest, including Bruno, are awaiting a trial, possibly next year. 

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Joseph A. Slobodzian
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