Philadelphia Traffic Court: 'The whoopee cushion of the judicial system'
What if there were a corruption investigation of the Pennsylvania Senate that left only one member standing?
That's a little like the FBI probe of ticket-fixing at Philadelphia Traffic Court. A single, sitting elected judge, Christine Solomon, was not charged. But the fixing culture was so deeply ingrained there that nine sitting and former judges now face fraud and conspiracy charges, including three out-of-county jurists who came in as temporary judges and started drinking the water.
Everybody is presumed innocent, of course, though three of the judges were charged in a way that usually indicates a guilty plea is coming.
I spoke to Gary Glazer, the administrative judge who was appointed to shape Traffic Court up last year after an ominous set of FBI raids. He says he found the fixing culture so embedded that many people honestly didn't think they were doing anything wrong.
He said the culture made the court well, a joke.
"This court has become the whoopee cushion of the judicial system," Glazer said. "But it didn't happen in a blink of an eye, and change takes time. It takes work and it takes commitment, and it takes citizen involvement as well."
Dominic Pileggi, the Delaware County Republican who is majority leader of the state Senate, has repeated his call for the abolition of traffic court.
Fine with me, but the real issue is what you replace it with.
Just look at the Philadelphia judges charged in this mess, and you'll see they're all politicians.
If we stop electing judges, maybe someday we'll have a bench where an FBI bed check doesn't find all but one camper out breaking the rules.
Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts has been pushing merit selection for years ... maybe in 2013?