Pennsylvania’s Top Court Takes Over Philadelphia Traffic Court Amid Corruption Probe
By Mike Dunn
Pennsylvania’s chief justice today announced a major shakeup in the wake of what he says is corruption and ticket-fixing at Philadelphia Traffic Court.
Chief Justice Ronald Castille, head of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, says he has appointed Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Gary Glazer, a former federal prosecutor of corruption cases, to take control of Traffic Court and oversee reforms.
In making the announcement, Castille (at lectern in photo below) lashed out at what he believes is a long-held culture of ticket-fixing at Traffic Court.
“The practice of accepting external requests for favorable treatment was so prevailing, that is has become institutionalized in the operations of the court,” Castille said, “and it involved administrative staff in addition to the judges.”
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For his part, Glazer (at left in photo) said the reform of Traffic Court will be a real one.
“The one thing that I am not interested in is some sort of band-aid, some sort of quick, short-term solution that’s going to fall by the wayside. We have to change how people think, and that’s going to take some time,” Glazer told reporters.
Glazer said he was stepping in to restore public confidence in the traffic court.
Castille also relieved administrative judge Michael Sullivan — in charge of day-to-day operations at Traffic Court — of his duties, though Sullivan will continue to hear cases for the time being. Castille cited an ongoing federal investigation involving Sullivan.
Sullivan’s attorney, Henry Hockeimer, told KYW Newsradio that he is “disappointed and surprised” by the state’s actions, and Hockeimer said Judge Sullivan “did nothing wrong.”
Castille indicated that the ticket-fixing at Traffic Court appeared to involve both the judicial level and staff. And he wants cooperation going forward from the staff.
“We can take all administrative steps that we wish to, or desire to, or see a need for. We can suspend people, we can fire people. I have informed all the personnel that they have to cooperate with the FBI, and if they don’t, there’s various sanctions up to and including termination of employment,” Castille said.
Castille added that it remains unclear to him if the ticket fixing came primarily in exchange for political favors, or for monetary payments.