Philly picks would-be Traffic Court judges

Earlier this year, a federal grand jury indicted several Philadelphia Traffic Court judges in an allegedly widespread ticket-fixing plot. That didn’t stop Philadelphians from nominating new candidates for Traffic Court judge in Tuesday’s primary election.

With 95 percent of precincts reporting, the apparent winners in the Democratic primary were Omar Sabir, Marnie Aument-Loughrey and Donna DeRose.

They had all been endorsed by the local party.

Dozens of candidates ran for the $91,000-a-year job. The judicial hopefuls might not ever sit on the bench, though. The Pennsylvania Senate recently passed legislation that would abolish the court. 

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Aument-Loughrey, whose mother is a ward leader in the local Democratic party, said that voters clearly want Traffic Court to stay.

“I don’t think it’s a corrupt cesspool,” she said. “The fact that the people in Philadelphia came out and voted for Traffic Court judges to be placed there means that they have faith in us.”

DeRose, meanwhile, said that scrapping Traffic Court would chip away at Philadelphians’ rights to vote for public officials.

Sabir did not return messages seeking comment. In 2008, his license was suspended because he didn’t pay off his tickets, according to the news site AxisPhilly.

Lynn Marks, executive director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, a court-reform advocacy group, said that Traffic Court must go. She argued that it is a necessary step in order to restore the public’s trust in the court system.

“It’s clear that the current Traffic Court has failed to function with the highest standards of ethical behavior,” she said. “It’s really time for a change.”

Republican Traffic Court candidates Ella Butcher and Christopher Vogler, who ran unopposed, won the GOP’s nomination.

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