Pa. Senate leader calls for eliminating Philly traffic court

An influential Pennsylvania State Senator says it’s time to get rid of Philadelphia Traffic Court.

In a report released in November for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Philadelphia Traffic Court was described as one with two tracks of Justice, one for the connected and another for the unwitting general public.

Delaware County Republican Dominic Pileggi, who is majority leader in the Pennsylvania Senate, wants to scrap it entirely.

“It’s just an institution with a multi-generational tradition of disfunction, there’s no reason to keep the institution, there’s no need to worry about another round of reform efforts,” said Pileggi, “we would be better off without it.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Pileggi says the work could be absorbed by either the Common Pleas or municipal courts.

Mayor Michael Nutter says one way or another problems at Philadelphia traffic court must be resolved.

“The real bottom line is how do you make sure whatever court it is that it operates with integrity, with transparency, that there is no “fixing” of tickets or anything else,” said Nutter. “Everyone should have their day in court, you have a legitimate explanation of what you did and you go from there.”

Former City Councilman Frank DiCicco ran traffic court before joining council. He says the court could be salvaged by assigning cases to judges randomly, instead of giving people the name of a judge weeks ahead of time.

“If I were the court administrator,” said DiCicco, “I’d probably be rotating judges on a daily basis without any knowledge of the judge of where the would be sitting until the hour before they sat.”

DiCicco says then, there would be no time to influence a judge.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal