Philadelphia Defies Court Order To Ensure Minimum of Due Process In Parking Citations

Philadelphia appears to be defying a court order to require the most minimal due process protection for drivers in parking violation cases. Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker issued an order weeks ago that drivers were entitled to some basic protections in ticking such as the right to know where the violation allegedly occurred and to have the right to question the ticket givers. City officials however have declared the protections to be simply not “practical” and appear to be ignoring it according to a columnist. The decision is an important victory for citizens who are often clipped by cities as a source of additional revenue through parking tickets.


Tucker ruled that ticket writers had to sign the tickets and state the exact location where the law was violated. The court also said that drivers should be able to cross examine the ticket givers and have a written ruling in contested cases.

Cities often impose a system that violated core guarantees of due process. I once challenged a ticket in New Orleans where I was ticketed for blocking my own driveway. When I tried to explain to the court that that was not possible under the city law (since I was the protected class), I was cut off and said that it was a “strict liability offense.” When I tried to explain that that made no sense and that the law clearly prohibits others from blocking my driveway, I was told that I could appeal the ruling in the same court room — in front of the same judge.

City Solicitor Shelley Smith appears to simply have ignored the order after failing in a motion for reconsideration. No appeal was taken but the city is still not complying according to the column below.

Smith’s view of the impracticality of giving basic rights to drivers is a rather curious position to take in the face of an unappealed order. You are not required to follow only “practical” orders in our system of law. Cities have created systems that offer little protection or due process for drivers. That lack of rights certainly moves things along and generates considerable money for the city. However, it appears that one judge would like to see a modicum of due process in a court system even if it is only traffic court.

It will be interesting to watch to the response of the court to the inaction of the city. The most obvious response (if a daily running fine is not used) would be to negate tickets based on the failure to guarantee these elements.

What do you think?

Source: Philly

26 thoughts on “Philadelphia Defies Court Order To Ensure Minimum of Due Process In Parking Citations”

  1. Jude, I know of someone who was in a dispute over money. She faxed a well-worded letter …. from an attorney’s fax machine. End of dispute.

  2. All the munis are a racket. You should see the looks on their faces when you ask them what “facts” they rely on.
    They don’t have any facts. Ever.
    Police get on the stand and confess they don’t even know what a valid cause of action is despite the fact they filed the ticket!

  3. Thanks, OS! That might just be what I have to do. Luckily, I work in an office associated with the legal field, so there are several notaries here that can make this whole thing easier.

  4. >”….City officials however have declared the protections to be simply not “practical”<

    I'm sorry. I wasn't aware that there was a requirement of 'practicality' to have our rights protected. Were the roles reversed ('I'm sorry. It's not 'practical' for me to take time off from work and come to Court on that specific date.') I'm pretty sure there would be legal ramifications (and probably contempt of court citations).

  5. Jude, suggest you prepare an affidavit to the effect you have not been on the campus at the time in question, as well as any other pertinent facts, and have the affidavit notarized. Then send by Certified Mail, return receipt requested. For a few extra cents, you can require the receipt be signed by the specific person in charge of the collection section.

    And send a cc to the State Attorney General consumer protection office, as well as the chief of security at the college…and perhaps the college president.

    Remember, lower level bureaucrats have no power to make anything happen. Their only power is to obstruct. You have to go well above their pay grade to get anything done. For some reason, a Certified Letter gets a lot more attention than a phone call or regular mail..wonder why that is? Heh!

  6. I agree that basic protections are needed. I have been getting a letter about a fine from a college campus I’ve not been to in 8 years for something that apparently happened in April. I have written to them and they refuse to offer me any evidence or even let me talk to the person in question. Their only response is another bill. And now they’ve sent me to the State of Maryland’s collection folks who are sending me an additional $30 charge on top of the $75 I shouldn’t even have to pay to begin with.

    The judge in the Philly case did the right thing, but it’s pathetic that the city is refusing to abide by it… Without these protections, traffic enforcers can simply write tickets for whatever they want and people will have to pay.

  7. I wonder if a challenge was made to the tickets being issued like one would do a datamaster result…..if there would be much difference in the outcome…..

  8. Mike S, right you are. If we decided that we really don’t want to be an empire, bring our troops home, cut our military budget and redirect our resources to our infrastructure and those systems that really make a difference, we could be a great nation.

  9. All over our country this municipal lawlessness has taken hold, trampling on our rights, but this result is really inevitable because of the constant drumbeats against taxes and the consequent defeat of those who are accused of raising taxes. We watch our country’s infrastructure erode, our educational systems languish, our court systems collapsing because of lack of funding and all the other symptoms of a country that can no longer maintain itself due to insufficient funding. Yet basic services need maintenance and the solution is to increase licensing fees and turn parking control into a cash cow, all in the name of not raising taxes. Until, or if ever, the debate is turned around to what kind of country do we want to live in, these “hidden” taxes will be used to make up for shortfalls. The desperate need to use these workarounds will continue to require their extra-legal enforcement.

  10. Democracy is simply impractical in the city where the Constitution was drafted and passed.

  11. And in NYC, there are guys driving around checking license plates and hauling away cars from out of the city. It costs hundreds of dollars to get the cars back. It happened to me twice. I had to borrow money both times to get my car back. In one instance they said it was because I was parked by a fire hydrant. There was no fire hydrant. I didn’t know it at the time because they didn’t leave a ticket. It’s a racket.

  12. In Phila you go to traffic “court” but it is a meeting with a ‘judge’ in a small room. I was ticketed, against the law, and the woman could not have cared less. Ended up paying impound and ticket fees over 200$ Dont drive into philly anymore, take the train,

  13. In southeast Indiana there was a guy who made fake booklets of parking tickets and placed them strategically in the bathrooms at the courthouse. He left a sign that said “Wipe and leave your remarks by the Clerk’s Office”.
    Well, the place got so stunk up on traffic day that they had to cancel the docket.

  14. Whether it is parking tickets issued to generate funds or violent beatings of peaceful protesters the reason Cities and officials allow it to go on is because there is no downside. The court should issue a contempt citation and a bench warrant, if possible, haul everyone involved in this process in to court and issue some stiff penalties–jail time if possible. This type of behavior by government officials destroys the trust we are supposed to be able to have in our government agencies closest to us.

  15. Parked the car in 1996 and have not looked back. No illegal tickets, no congress with taser-happy cops, and I have saved well over $150,000 since I stopped driving. Absent the expectation to drive, it appears as thralldom to these eyes.

  16. OS,
    those red light cameras are simply a means to collect more money for the municipality. I once received notices for a year from Gary, Indiana for unpaid parking tickets for a car that had been sold long before the dates on the tickets and a city I had never parked in. I also tried to explain that to the Gary officials and they just blew me off. I then sent a letter to them and strongly suggested that if I received one more ticket notice I would be forwarding it to the Illinois Attorney General for their handling of what appeared to be a civic extortion scheme. I did not receive any more notices from Gary.
    The city of Philadelphia doesn’t need to pay fines to the court. That would only hurt the taxpayers. I think the judge should hold city officials in contempt and put them in jail until they comply with the court’s order.

  17. Another of my pet peeves is the photographic evidence speeding and red light tickets. Those are handled by a processing center in another state, and are considered to be a civil and not criminal court matter. I think that is how some municipalities are getting around the due process issue. One fellow from Unicoi County, TN had his truck stolen. It was reported stolen and was on record by law enforcement as being a stolen vehicle. It was later found abandoned in Texas. In the meantime, the victim received one or two traffic tickets from other cities, one of them being Knoxville, TN if memory serves correctly. He tried writing and calling those cities but was simply told that since he had run those red lights he needed to pay up. No one was interested in hearing that the truck was stolen and it was the thief who had committed the violations.

    He was ready to pay the several hundred dollars in tickets to make the problem go away, when the local Sheriff got involved and started calling law enforcement agencies in those municipalities. The tickets were finally dismissed.

    I don’t know how far it has progressed, but as a result of that case and other questions, there was a bill introduced in the Tennessee legislature to require any company putting up traffic control cameras to have all their operations located in the state, and they could not be outsourced to other states.

  18. Our legislators are to blame for the ruthless ways that our police and highway patrols get by with draconian laws to generate revenue.

  19. I have been a victim of phantom tickets…..written in a city I had never been in…..in that case it’s easier just to pay them, and they know it…..

  20. I used to work with an ex-cop. His advice was to always contest any ticket (speeding, parking whatever). He said the odds are the officer would not show up in court for something that minor & you would walk. If even half of the people contested parking tickets I’m afraid we would need to build whole courthouses to meet the demand.

Comments are closed.