Judicial Candidate Asks Donors for Money; Says They Will Need Him in Court

LTB logo

A pastor running for a Philadelphia judgeship told potential donors in April that they should contribute because they were "going to need [him]" later, raising concern that he was suggesting he would show favoritism to contributors.  "I’m telling you all just like it is," said Willie Singletary to what the article described as "a crowd of fellow motorcycle enthusiasts."  "I need some money.  I got some stuff that I got to get [done]," Singletary said, "but if y’all can give me $20 . . . You’re all going to need me [in court], am I right about that?"  The issue came up again last week after a video of the statement showed up on YouTube.

Singletary, who is a pastor, made the comments while he was at Malcolm X Park in Philadelphia conducting the annual "Blessing of the Bikes."  (He asked for the campaign contributions to be put into the "offering bucket.")  Singletary was in the news earlier this year after it was revealed that, at the time he won the Democratic primary, he had over 50 unpaid traffic citations, including at least one for reckless driving, and owed over $11,000 in unpaid fines.  A bench warrant was issued for Singletary’s arrest in May, but his father paid the fines at that point.

Given those facts, it only makes sense that Singletary is running to be a judge in Philadelphia’s Traffic Court.

Singletary’s attorney, Richard Hoy, came to Singletary’s defense.  "He hasn’t done anything wrong," said Hoy of the statement to the potential donors.  Everyone needs a friend in traffic court.  You need a friend in traffic court.  He was just promising people they would get a fair trial."  Well, more specifically, he was promising the members of a group defined by its love for driving that they would get a "fair trial" in traffic court, as part of a request for donations from the members of that group.  I’m just saying.

Judges in Philadelphia Traffic Court do not have to actually be attorneys — and Singletary is not — though they do have to take a course and pass an exam, which if I remember right is what I did to become an attorney, more or less.  It also appears that judges in Philadelphia Traffic Court do not have to actually be able to drive — and Singletary cannot, at least until his license is reinstated, which will not be before 2011.

Link: CBS News