A controversial Philadelphia Traffic Court judge whose driver’s license had been suspended through 2011 because of numerous motor vehicle violations, but who had nonetheless secured election to the municipal bench, has been relieved of duties following an alleged incident of sexual harassment, according to local news reports.
Willie F. Singletary, who had amassed more than $11,000 in traffic fines before he was elected traffic court judge in 2007, was escorted from the Traffic Court building on Spring Garden Street in Philadelphia by sheriff’s deputies last week after he was relieved of his judicial duties by Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Gary S. Glazer, who during that same week was appointed Traffic Court administrative judge following a corruption probe at the court, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Glazer recommended that Singletary be suspended by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which oversees the state’s judicial system; a complaint has also been filed with the state’s Judicial Conduct Board, according to the newspaper, which attributed the information to anonymous sources.
The paper reported that Singletary has hired criminal defense attorney William J. Brennan, who said his client was not initially informed why he was being removed from the bench by Glazer.
Singletary “received several memoranda from the new administrative judge, which included instructions to refrain from entering the courthouse,” Brennan told the Inquirer. “I do not know, nor was Judge Singletary advised of the basis, if any, for this action.”
Sources told the newspaper that Singletary was relieved of duties after he allegedly showed a photograph of his genitals to a court staffer, and subsequently attempted to get the woman to recant her complaint regarding the incident.
Singletary, 29, a Democrat who reportedly makes around $85,000 in his post, made headlines before his judicial election after he was filmed making comments that suggested he would give favorable treatment to those who might come before him in court if they donated money to his judicial campaign.
Singletary later said that his comments were taken out of context. Nevertheless, he received a reprimand from the Court of Judicial Discipline in 2009, according to the Inquirer.
Singletary was perhaps best known for being the Traffic Court candidate who had acquired $11,500 in traffic violations–fines he has since paid off–before he became a judge. The penalties led him to lose his license, which he has since gained back, the paper reported.
Singletary is also known for being an outspoken preacher at a West Philadelphia church that he established in 2006.
It remains to be seen if Glazer’s removal actions at Traffic Court will be upheld; despite being asked to leave the courthouse, Singletary remains an active elected judge in the commonwealth. He had cases pending in court during the time of his removal from the bench.
Glazer, a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jurist, took over administrative duties at Traffic Court last week following a federal probe into ticket-fixing allegations.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille appointed Glazer to take over administrative duties for then-Administrative Judge Michael J. Sullivan.