A Philadelphia Traffic Court judge shown on a YouTube video soliciting campaign funds has admitted soliciting campaign donations but is arguing in court papers that he was unaware of the ban on judicial candidates seeking donations until he attended Judicial School after his election.
The Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board filed five formal counts of misconduct against Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge Willie F. Singletary April 22. Singletary was elected to the bench last fall.
According to the notice of formal charges filed by the conduct board, Singletary allegedly brought the judicial office into disrepute by promising favorable treatment while soliciting donations from bikers last year at an event held to raise donations for his campaign and to conduct a blessing on motorcycles ahead of the warm road season.
Singletary told the bikers, among other alleged statements, according to the notice: "'Now you all want me to get there, you're all going to need my hook-up, right?'"
Singletary is also arguing in his answer to the Judicial Conduct Board's complaint filed Thursday with the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline that the Philadelphia First State Road Rattlers gathered April 22, 2007, at Malcolm X Park at 52nd and Pine streets in Philadelphia were his family members and close friends who knew that Singletary would not hear his cases.
"I regret using the words 'You're all going to need my hook-up right?' I was surprised to see that I had actually used those words, but there is no doubt that I did," Singletary's answer said. "I am afraid that I got excited and carried away. My theme was meant to be that I was the sort of person that citizens would want to appear before.
"Although my words -- and my use of 'urban' language -- undoubtedly sound bad to those who have read them, I do not believe that the people at the event took them the wrong way since most of them were close friends and family members who knew that I would not hear their cases."
Singletary's attorney, John W. Morris, declined comment.
After the pleading stage of the Singletary's case is completed, a three-judge panel will conduct a public hearing regarding the charges.