Editorial: Fix this court

Pity the poor soul who is not polit­ic­ally con­nec­ted or doesn’t have a cous­in who works at Phildelphia’s Traffic Court. If he’s stopped by a cop for a mov­ing vi­ol­a­tion, he has two choices. He can take a half-day off of work and fight the tick­et or he can send in his fine.
 But if he’s “con­nec­ted,” he has a very good chance of get­ting his tick­et thrown out, or his vi­ol­a­tion re­duced. In some cases, he might be found not guilty without even hav­ing to show up in court.
 This “two-track sys­tem” of justice is de­scribed in scath­ing de­tail in the in­ter­im Chad­wick re­port re­leased pub­licly on Nov. 19. It’s based on in­ter­views with court em­ploy­ees and Traffic Court judges. One em­ploy­ee even ar­gued that the sys­tem was fair be­cause every vi­ol­at­or had ac­cess to pref­er­en­tial treat­ment if only he was “savvy enough to ask his elec­ted ward lead­ers for help.”
Thank­fully, an FBI raid in Septem­ber 2011 and this re­port have blown the whistle on this ne­far­i­ous  activ­ity.
What has gone on at Traffic Court is pat­ently un­fair to people who try to do the right thing by own­ing up to their mis­con­duct on the road. It is wrong be­cause it de­means the work of patrol of­ficers who is­sue tick­ets be­cause they are try­ing to keep the streets safe. And, it is wrong be­cause it denies the city and state thou­sands — if not mil­lions — of dol­lars.
Judges who are sworn in­to of­fice in Traffic Court swear they will up­hold the law and dis­charge their du­ties “with fi­del­ity.” What part of faith­ful­ness did they think ap­plied only some of the time?
Judge Gary S. Glazer, who has been ap­poin­ted to clean up this mess, has a good bead on where we need to end up. “We are try­ing to make a sys­tem of justice that’s fair for every­body,” he said.
That seems to be Job 1 for every court in the land. It’s time for sig­ni­fic­ant struc­tur­al change to Traffic Court or the sys­tem of secret re­quests will re­turn as soon as the spot­light is turned off.
Send let­ters to: pronews@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at staff@bsmphilly.com.

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