Traffic judge sanctioned for YouTube remark

January 7, 2009 9:14:45 AM PST
A traffic judge will serve judicial probation for remarks that suggest campaign donors would find a "hook-up" in his court. The remarks by Judge Willie Singletary at an April 2007 biker rally were captured on video and posted to YouTube. The video shows Singletary seeking campaign donations despite rules that prohibit magisterial district judge candidates from such solicitations.

"There's going to be a basket going around because I'm running for Traffic Court judge, right, and I need some money," Singletary said at the small rally. "Now, you all want me to get there, you're all going to need my hook-up, right?"

The Judicial Conduct Board's chief counsel, Joseph A. Massa, called the comments "a sleazy pitch for support. It was a quid pro quo."

Singletary, 27, could have been ousted from his job, but the board on Tuesday instead issued a reprimand and placed him on an undetermined period of probation. His judicial term runs for six years.

John L. Musmanno, president judge of the Court of Judicial Discipline, noted that Singletary made the remarks during the campaign, before he went through any legal training.

Singletary, the founding pastor of a West Philadelphia church, won office even though his own driver's license was suspended due to $11,000 in traffic-related fines. Singletary told the panel he had paid the fines and was appealing the license suspension. He also apologized for his remarks.

"I was in preacher mode," he said. "I do admit I chose a poor choice of words."

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