Court: ‘Judicial penis’ was a ‘memorable event’

Willie F. Singletary, elected to the Traffic Court bench in 2007, resigned amid scandal. (Clem Murray / Staff Photographer)
Willie F. Singletary, elected to the Traffic Court bench in 2007, resigned amid scandal. (Clem Murray / Staff Photographer)
Posted: October 11, 2012

He rode into office on a motorcycle, with a suspended license and thousands in unpaid tickets, promising voters a sympathetic ear when they came before him in Philadelphia Traffic Court.

He left his black robe and $85,000 salary behind in February after just four years when a Traffic Court cashier accused him of showing her cellphone photos of, well, the lower court.

Traffic Court Judge Willie F. Singletary is gone but not forgotten, as Pennsylvania's Court of Judicial Discipline made clear Tuesday in an opinion excoriating Singletary for "bringing his judicial office into public disrepute."

"We think that the public - even those members of the public who register the lowest scores on the sensitivity index - do not expect their judges to be conducting photo sessions featuring the judicial penis and then to be sending the photos over the electronic airwaves to another person," the court wrote in a 19-page unsigned opinion.

The court will not impose a penalty, such as barring Singletary from future judicial posts, until after Singletary's response.

Judicial system investigators began looking at Singletary after the incident became public and he resigned earlier this year.

Singletary's attorney, John S. Summers, said Singletary will file objections to the opinion. Summers said he feels the five-member court erred because it did not show by "clear and convincing evidence" that Singletary, 31, knew what he was doing on Feb. 19 when he showed two photos of his erect penis to a Traffic Court cashier identified as "F."

In court filings, Summers said, Singletary maintained he forgot the photos were still on his smartphone.

"On one occasion, for seconds: something like that doesn't bring the judicial office into disrepute," Summers said.

The Court of Judicial Discipline, however, said it did not believe Singletary forgot about the photos: "Taking photographs of one's erect penis is a 'memorable event.' We also mention that they weren't stored in [Singletary's] phone for nothing - they were stored in his photo for re-viewing. What else?"

"A judge who intentionally grooms his penis for photography, and then intentionally photographs his penis for the purpose of display to others, had better remember that the photographs are in his phone lest they 'slip out' at some inopportune . . . time under circumstances which are likely to offend another person," the court added.

The opinion said the Feb. 19 incident between Singletary and the 22-year-old female cashier occurred between 5:19 p.m. and 6:43 p.m. Singletary was night judge at the court at Eighth Street and Spring Garden Avenue.

It was slow and three security cameras - without audio - recorded events as Singletary, sans black robe, entered the cashier station and struck up a conversation with F.

Singletary and F are seen looking at photos on each other's phones. At one point, according to the opinion, Singletary tells F he thinks she is a "beautiful young lady," would like to go out and maybe have an "intimate relationship."

"Whatever we do, it has nothing to do with Traffic Court," Singletary reportedly told F. "You're an adult, I'm an adult, it's a private matter."

The opinion says Singletary began scrolling through photos on his cellphone. Between a photo of him with a female friend and another of his head were the two penis photos.

Singletary was elected in 2007 by virtue of his Democratic registration and first-place ballot pick - and despite a video of him at a West Philadelphia motorcycle rally. Singletary, a motorcycle club member and ordained minister, is heard telling the crowd he'll remember their contributions after he's elected.

Before his election, Singletary accumulated $11,500 in traffic violations and his driver's license was suspended until 2011. He paid the fines and his license was restored.


 


Contact Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985, jslobodzian@phillynews.com, or @joeslobo on Twitter.

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