Philadelphia Judges Under the Microscope Again

/ 18.Sep, 2013

Investigations into the conduct of Philadelphia judges are not new.  In July 1903, Lincoln Steffens published his fifth article in a series on municipal corruption.  The article was entitled “Philadelphia: Corrupt and Contented,” and includes the memorable lines: “All our municipal governments are more or less bad, and all our people are optimists. . . .Philadelphia is simply the most corrupt and the most contented.”  While the veracity of the anecdotes from Mr. Steffens have been questioned, the perception of a corrupt Philadelphia judiciary was explicit (“The man named as judge had a criminal charge for a life offense pending against him.”).  Certainly, this blog has repeatedly reported on the various issues our many judges have faced, including the infamous “whoopee cushion of the judicial process.”

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the latest news on this front is federal prosecutors and FBI agents have subpoenaed financial information from five Philadelphia judges including Municipal Court Judges Joseph C. Waters, Jr., Joseph O’Neill, Dawn A. Segal, and Craig M. Washington.  Financial records have also been subpoenaed from Court of Common Pleas Judge Angeles Roca.  The existence of an investigation is not evidence of wrongdoing, but it also does not improve the already dim perception of our beleaguered judiciary.

Josh J.T. Byrne, Esquire