HARRISBURG – Two bills authored by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9) to abolish Philadelphia Traffic Court were unanimously approved today by the Senate. Both bills now move to the House for consideration.
“After the most recent round of indictments, the situation in Philadelphia Traffic Court is so bad that only one judge out of seven is still serving on the court,” Senator Pileggi said. “There is no good reason for taxpayers to continue footing the bill for a court that is unnecessary and has become an embarrassment to the state’s judicial system.”
No other county in Pennsylvania has a separate traffic court.
Senator Pileggi introduced two bills to abolish Philadelphia Traffic Court. Senate Bill 333 would eliminate the court from the state constitution. Senate Bill 334 would statutorily transfer its responsibilities to Philadelphia Municipal Court.
The Senate Appropriations Committee estimates that this change could save up to $650,000 per year.
Nine current and former Traffic Court judges and three other individuals were charged in January by the federal government with taking part in “a fraud conspiracy that involved a frequent and pervasive ‘ticket-fixing’ at the Philadelphia Traffic Court.” According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, “The defendants participated in a widespread culture of giving breaks on traffic citations to friends, family, the politically-connected, and business associates.”
Senator Pileggi said the most recent criminal charges should be the final straw for Philadelphia Traffic Court. “This is a court with a multi-generational tradition of dysfunction,” he said. “No one can rationally defend its continued existence.”
The complete 79-page indictment is available here (PDF).