Trial set to begin for six former Philly Traffic Court judges

    Six former judges in Philadelphia’s Traffic Court will have the tables turned Tuesday, when lawyers are expected to give their opening statements in a ticket-fixing case.

    Federal prosecutors say the judges gave special treatment to politically connected friends in a wide-ranging scheme. Three judges, a court administrator and a businessman have pleaded guilty in the case.

    Defense lawyers have said the judges were wrongly charged.

    In a memorandum filed earlier this month, the government said the trial would last several weeks and that more than 100 witnesses would be called to testify, including Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and an aide to Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell.

    Political scientist Terry Madonna says the allegations show that the city government has to work harder to root out corruption.

    “My sense is that Philadelphia still has a long way to go, and that there are lots of reforms that ought to be undertaken,” he said. “Things like pay-to-play … and political favoritism [have] been the way of life in that city.”

    Since the judges were indicted, state lawmakers abolished the Traffic Court. Last week, city officials announced additional reforms aimed at ensuring fairness in the Municipal Court division that now handles traffic violations.

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