Philadelphia traffic court judges went to court to ask for charges against them to be dropper. Their argument is interesting and unexpected, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
Nine indicted judges want their ticket-fixing case involving Philadelphia Traffic Court dropped because they say no money changed hands.
At a hearing Monday, defense lawyers said the loss of potential fines does not justify the federal mail and wire fraud charges.
Lawyer Henry Hockeimer Jr. says the indictment does not allege any bribes or kickbacks, but only that traffic judges helped friends get tickets dismissed.
He says that may violate judicial conduct rules, but not federal law.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Wzorek called it “very unusual” for the defense to argue that no money was lost because the tickets were fixed early on.
U.S. District Judge Robert Kelly promised to rule quickly.
Three judges have already pleaded guilty. The remaining defendants include six current or former judges, a clerk and two businessmen.
Gov. Tom Corbett signed a measure last week that basically abolishes Traffic Court moving traffic matter to Philadelphia Municipal Court. Traffic matters will still be heard at the current facility at 8th and Spring Garden Street while the head of municipal court oversees proceedings.
The changes will take time to implement and it could take years to change the state constitution to officially aoblish the court.
State Sen. Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) who sponsored the bill Corbett signed said news accounts about the problems at the city's traffic court were obvious justification to do away with it.
"Through the last 50 years, the Philadelphia Traffic Court has demonstrated a remarkable ability to be the center of scandal after scandal, some criminal in nature and others the result of basic incompetence,'' Pileggi said. "The court has proven to be immune to all reform efforts.'