Awesome op-ed from Lynn A. Marks of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts:
Structural reforms to the court are also needed. Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts is researching the viability of a number of proposals such as: anonymous and mandatory reporting of problems, with discipline imposed for noncompliance; requiring Traffic Court judges to be lawyers (whose licenses would be in jeopardy for this type of misconduct); tougher entrance exams; enhanced ethics training; merit selection or appointment of Traffic Court judges; and replacing Traffic Court with an administrative agency, to name just a few. We are also studying other major jurisdictions to serve as models.
None of these reforms is sufficient on its own. After all, the biggest problem is the culture of “fixing.” This is both good and bad news. The good news is that long-range legislative and administrative action may not be required to correct the problem. The bad news is that the problems go well beyond lax enforcement of existing rules and require comprehensive efforts to change attitudes, expectations, and ultimately behavior.
This is difficult, but not impossible. Philadelphians may have been victimized, but they are not powerless. The culture of entitlement can end. We can stop asking for and expecting special consideration for ourselves or others. We can demand that our community and political leaders abide by the same rules as the rest of us. We can choose judges based on their qualifications, experience, and integrity, not their names, ballot position, or fund-raising prowess.
Positive changes have already begun. Under the strong leadership of specially-appointed Administrative Judge Gary S. Glazer, and with the invaluable help of some dedicated Traffic Court staff, merit-based hiring has been introduced, all employees have undergone ethics training, and court officers are now sworn in by Glazer and given instructions about the importance of integrity.