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NEWS
June 19, 2014 | BY JULIE SHAW, Daily News Staff Writer shawj@phillynews.com, 215-854-2592
A FORMER Philadelphia Traffic Court higher-up acknowledged yesterday that he now considers ticket-fixing to be wrong, but didn't previously because it was part of the everyday culture. "I didn't then" think it was wrong, testified Robert DeEmilio, who had worked as deputy court administrator in Traffic Court. Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Wzorek asked if "there were people who were more equal under the law" - people who received preferential treatment on a traffic ticket because they were connected to the judges.
NEWS
June 18, 2014 | By Harold Brubaker, Inquirer Staff Writer
Commonwealth Court on Monday dismissed a lawsuit by minority investors in SugarHouse Casino seeking to block the reissue of Philadelphia's second casino license. The minority investors, led by Philadelphia lawyer Richard A. Sprague and auto magnate Robert Potamkin, argued in the lawsuit filed last August that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board had no authority to reissue the license that went to the failed Foxwoods Casino. That license was revoked in December 2010. Sprague said the group would appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, perhaps as soon as this week.
NEWS
June 18, 2014 | By Maddie Hanna, Inquirer Trenton Bureau
TRENTON - The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday approved Gov. Christie's two nominees - one a Democrat, the other a Republican - to the state Supreme Court, advancing with little dissent a deal brokered by Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester). The deal will likely keep Democratic Chief Justice Stuart Rabner on the court, while adding to the bench Camden County Republican Lee Solomon, a state court judge who has ties to Christie and has been praised by Democrats. The full Senate is expected to decide Thursday on the nominations of Rabner and Solomon, who cleared the Judiciary Committee by votes of 11-2 for Rabner and 12-1 for Solomon.
NEWS
June 18, 2014 | BY JULIE SHAW, Daily News Staff Writer shawj@phillynews.com, 215-854-2592
AFTER A SIX-DAY break, the federal trial of six former Philadelphia Traffic Court judges and a Chinatown businessman accused of conspiring in a ticket-fixing scheme resumed yesterday. The morning's testimony centered on a ticket that was issued on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia to Diandra Salvatore, of Blackwood, Camden County. Salvatore was issued a ticket by a state trooper on Aug. 26, 2010, for allegedly speeding - driving 85 mph in a 55-mph zone. The ticket carried a fine of $247.
NEWS
June 18, 2014 | By Jeremy Roebuck, Inquirer Staff Writer
Called before a grand jury two years ago, Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge Michael Lowry testified that when it came to his rulings, everyone was treated "pretty much the same. " On Monday, his lawyer set out to prove it. As the federal ticket-fixing trial of Lowry and five other former judges resumed after a weeklong break, attorney William DeStefano accused FBI agents of focusing their investigation too narrowly and ignoring evidence that backed Lowry's claims. Brandishing statistical analysis of a day in his client's courtroom, DeStefano argued that at least one case singled out by prosecutors as an example of special treatment was anything but. The ticket-holder ended up with the day's worst outcome - a bigger fine than anyone else that day, he said.
NEWS
June 15, 2014 | By Jeremy Roebuck, Inquirer Staff Writer
A former Pennsylvania attorney general, an ex-lawyer for the Philadelphia School District, and the president of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute all made the list Friday as President Obama nominated four candidates for spots on the federal bench. If confirmed, the nominees, none of whom has judicial experience, will fill four of the five current vacancies in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which covers the Philadelphia region. "I am honored to put forward these highly qualified candidates," the president said in a statement.
NEWS
June 13, 2014 | BY JOHN F. MORRISON, Daily News Staff Writer morrisj@phillynews.com, 215-854-5573
GRACE FERRARA knew there was something dangerously wrong with her son. At the age of 3, Anthony could barely walk. She carried him from doctor to doctor, but none could help him as his condition worsened to near paralysis. She would wheel him around in a child's wagon. One day, after another fruitless doctor's visit, she broke down in an elevator in a medical building and began to sob. A man asked her what was wrong. When she told him, he asked to look at Anthony, then gave her a card to Shriners Hospital for Children and a doctor named John Royal Moore.
NEWS
June 13, 2014 | BY PATRICIA MADEJ, Daily News Staff Writer madejp@phillynews.com, 215-854-5938
THE PHILADELPHIA Court of Common Pleas wants to keep offenders from returning to the courtroom. To that end, the court system in April introduced a pilot re-entry program called MENTOR, or Mentors Empowering Now to Overcome Recidivism. The program, started by Common Pleas Judge Michael Erdos, matches civilian volunteers, or mentors, with "participants" who have pleaded guilty, in hopes of guiding them toward successful re-entry into society. Successful participants would have a significant amount of probation time taken off their sentences - typically a year.
NEWS
June 11, 2014 | By Alfred Lubrano, Inquirer Staff Writer
  Pennsylvania has more inmates convicted as juveniles for murder and sentenced to life without parole than any other place in the world. That distinction was reinforced Monday by a U.S. Supreme Court decision. The high court declined to hear an appeal by juvenile-justice advocates to revisit the sentences of those prisoners. "We are obviously disappointed," said Marsha Levick, deputy director and chief counsel of the Juvenile Law Center, a national, nonprofit, public-interest law firm for children, based in Center City.
NEWS
June 6, 2014 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer
They're from different parts of the city and had nothing in common - except for their predawn Wednesday wake-up call: court warrant officers arresting them for failing to appear for jury duty. Actually, it was more than that. Not only did they ignore at least two calls for jury duty, they ignored a summons telling them to appear in court May 21 or be held in contempt. Yes, we're talking about scofflaws in Philadelphia's new Juror Scofflaw Court. Two of the three - Timothy Shissler, 42, of Frankford, and John Sparks, 56, of Brewerytown - pleaded guilty before unsmiling Common Pleas Court Judges John W. Herron and Jeffrey P. Minehart.
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