The Philadelphia parking ticket adjudication process
I love checking out the wacky world of parking tickets in cities across the land. I’ve walked the streets of San Fransisco and observed a series of parking signs on a block with no arrows to tell me what part of the block that the sign regulated. I’ve researched the Chicago ticket process and compared and contrasted the rules and regulations.
But, Philadelphia takes the marble cake. Philadelphia, the alleged city of brotherly love, has displayed a total disregard for justice and fair play for parking violations, until…
A Philadelphia resident savors a huge victory
“Fighting a ticket in Philly isn’t easy — but one local man took the fight all the way to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and won. On July 11, Judge Leon Tucker ruled that the city’s Bureau of Administrative Adjudication (BAA), where the ticketed must go to contest violations from the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA), must allow citizens the opportunity to cross-examine the officers who wrote their tickets. Tucker also ordered the BAA to require that tickets include the exact location of a car in violation, not just the city block, and ordered that ticket writers sign each ticket they issue.”
Can you imagine a judge ordering parking ticket warriors to appear at in-person hearings in NYC? My g-d, there are more than 9M parking tickets issued during the course of a parking year.
The response of the Philadelphia Parking Authority
Jerry Connor, director of the Bureau of Administrative Adjudication, says:
“The city is still figuring out what the consequences of the ruling will actually be. ‘The city’s finest legal minds are looking at the opinion … and we will be addressing the conclusion of that review. We don’t know what it’s going to mean yet,’ he says.”
The PBAA declined to follow the judge’s ruling.
The parking ticket story
“It all started with the appellant in the case, Jim Pavlock, a Fairmount resident who had a couple of parking tickets and decided to fight them in court after losing his appeal with the Bureau of Administrative Adjudication. He had requested the opportunity to cross-examine the PPA officer who wrote the tickets but was told that the BAA “never” brings in ticketing officers for hearings. Furthermore, one of the tickets cited him for parking in a crosswalk, though he says he was parked mid-block. Because the PPA Enforcement Officers’ Handbook doesn’t require specific addresses but only says to “use the block number as the location of the vehicle,” it leaves room for error, he argued. And, he insisted, the tickets he received should have been signed by the officer in question.
The failure to sign a ticket violates the Philadelphia Code. The Code also requires a ticket to contain the “location of the violation alleged.”
However, the law leaves it to the discretion of the BAA Hearing Examiner to determine whether the ticketing officer should be called to appear for the cross-examination. Pavlock argued successfully that the opportunity for cross-examination is a right granted the state’s Administrative Agency Law, and that BAA practices went against past Pennsylvania Supreme Court rulings.” [Source: “The Naked City”].
Wow. Reading this story makes me yearn for the simple life of fighting parking tickets in NYC. The Philadelphia parking ticket dispute process defies the description. No wonder Philadelphia has a TV show about its nefarious practices (“Parking Wars”).
It may surprise you that I believe a parking ticket warrior or cop should not be ordered to appear in court to be cross-examined at an in-person parking ticket hearing. A cross-examination of a cop or parking ticket warrior would go something like this:
MDP: Did you issue a parking ticket on January 1, 1995, at 12:45 a.m. for parking within 15 feet of a fire hydrant?
Parking Ticket Warrior: I don’t recall
MDP: I show you what has been marked D1 for identification
[PTW examines the parking ticket]
MDP: Do you recognize the illegible mark at the bottom of the parking ticket?
PTW: Yes. That’s my signature.
MDP: Take a moment to look at the parking ticket marked D1 for identification. Does the parking ticket refresh your recollection?
PTW: I know I issued this parking ticket because I recognize my signature at the bottom. I am required by law, and it is my custom, to sign each parking ticket I issue, and accurately enter all the bite-size bits of information that appear in those silly little boxes on the parking ticket. But, reading the parking ticket today doesn’t refresh my current recollection of the event.
MDP: Your Honor, since the PTW does not recall any of the details of the parking violation, I move to dismiss the parking violation
Judge: Denied. I am going to accept the parking ticket as a business record and find that the NYC DOF has established a prima facie case against you, despite the fact the parking ticket warrior has no independent, present recollection of issuing your parking ticket. You may proceed with your defense…
Trust me, a cop or parking ticket warrior will never, ever be ordered to appear in parking ticket court in NYC and shouldn’t. Anyway, I’d rather fight against a piece of paper than a real live person. How about you?