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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 30, 2017 10:32 AM
From: Representative W. Curtis Thomas
To: All House members
Subject: Philadelphia Traffic Division

In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that would set in statute a Philadelphia Traffic Division, patterned after the former Philadelphia Traffic Court.

During the 2013-14 Legislative Session, the Philadelphia Traffic Court was disbanded and a new Traffic Division established within the Philadelphia Municipal Court. That division is set to sunset, which would place all of the traffic court cases within the realm of an already overburdened Philadelphia Municipal Court.

My proposed legislation would eliminate the sunset of the Traffic Division, while bringing the complement of judges within that division to seven, with vacancies to be filled by election. A judge in traffic division must complete a course of training and instruction and pass an exam prior to assuming the duties of his or her office. Judges in this division will have exclusive jurisdiction over motor vehicle summary offenses.

Philadelphia’s Traffic Court was established following a 1968 constitutional amendment, which established the Commonwealth Court to reduce the workload of Supreme and Superior courts. This change altered the minor court system and reorganized the judiciary into the Unified Judicial System. Legislation enacted in the 2013-14 Legislative Session, sought to eliminate Philadelphia Traffic Court. This followed reports of integrity problems in the adjudication of cases that led to the removal of several judges.

I am proposing legislation to maintain a traffic division in Philadelphia, because of the sheer volume of cases presented in such a large jurisdiction. These cases will add to an already busy Municipal Court, thus potentially denying the basic right of Philadelphians to fair and speedy trials. Moreover, I believe that for many of these minor traffic offenses, such as contesting a traffic ticket, individuals should not face the intimidation of appearing in a regular municipal court room. These cases are very important to public safety in Philadelphia and I believe my legislation is vital in protecting and balancing the needs of the public with public safety.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.
This legislation was formerly HB1908 of the 2015-16 session

Introduced as HB541