Prosecutors, not cops, will pursue cases in Traffic Court

Posted: May 21, 2014

AS SIX FORMER Traffic Court judges await trial, city officials announced yesterday that in the new Traffic Court - the one without entrenched corruption and ticket-fixing for the politically connected - the city will pay for four assistant district attorneys and 10 paralegals to lead prosecutions.

In the past, police officers played the prosecutorial role, and officials said the shift will help professionalize the court, which was an independent entity until the state transferred control to the Philadelphia Municipal Court earlier this year.

"It would be better to have a more uniform view of plea bargains," said Common Pleas Judge Gary Glazer, who is overseeing Traffic Court during the reorganization. "We're looking for fairness, uniformity."

The city will pay $800,000 per year for the District Attorney's Office to place four assistant D.A.s in Traffic Court and hire 10 new paralegals. The prosecutors will try about 500 cases per day when the new system begins July 1.

Mayor Nutter and District Attorney Seth Williams made the announcement in City Hall yesterday, which was supposed to be the first day of jury selection for the trial of six Traffic Court judges and two businessmen indicted by federal authorities in an alleged ticket-fixing scheme for politically connected defendants.

U.S. District Judge Robert Kelly, however, fell ill, and the case has been delayed.

The six indicted former judges are Mark Bruno, Michael Lowry, Robert Mulgrew, Willie Singletary, Michael Sullivan and Thomasine Tynes. The other two defendants are Henry Alfano and Robert Moy.

After those charges were announced, the state General Assembly began the process of eliminating Traffic Court, which was the only independent court for traffic violations in the state, and transferring its responsibilities to Municipal Court.

Nutter said the money for the added legal staff will have to be amended into his budget proposal, which City Council has been vetting in hearings and must vote on by June 30.

On Twitter: @SeanWalshDN

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