Even though a former Philadelphia Traffic Court judge contends that he did not intend to show photographs of his genitals on his phone to a Philadelphia Parking Authority contractor, the Court of Judicial Discipline found that he did intentionally show the images.
By doing so, Willie F. Singletary brought the judicial office into disrepute in violation of the state constitution, said Judge Timothy F. McCune, writing for the panel of President Judge Robert E.J. Curran and Judges Bernard L. McGinley, Charles A. Clement Jr. and John R. Cellucci.
“We think that the public — even those members of the public who register the lowest scores on the sensitivity index — do not expect their judges to be conducting photo sessions featuring the judicial penis and then to be sending the photos over the electronic airwaves to another person,” the opinion said.
There is no allegation that Singletary transmitted the photographs to the complainant in the case.
Singletary said he did not recall that the two photographs were on his phone, which was a fact stipulated by judicial prosecutorial authority Judicial Conduct Board, according to the opinion.
Singletary was suspended without pay January 5 by the state Supreme Court. Singletary was first suspended from his judicial duties December 23 by Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Gary S. Glazer, the administrative judge of the Traffic Court, because Singletary showed the dual images of his genitals to a cashier.
The opinion resulted in an unusual holding.
“We hold that a judge who intentionally grooms his penis for photography, and then intentionally photographs his penis for the purpose of display to others, had better remember that the photographs are in his phone lest they ‘slip out’ at some inopportune (albeit unplanned) time under circumstances which are likely to offend another person or persons, for, if they do, we will hold such conduct satisfies the ‘mens rea requirement’ so as to support a finding that the conduct is such that brings the judicial office into disrepute,” according to the opinion.
Bringing the judicial office into disrepute includes an element of mens rea, or state of mind, the opinion said.
The standard of evidence was clear and convincing.
John S. Summers of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller said in a statement that his client will be submitting objections to the opinion because the board did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that Singletary had the mens rea to bring the judicial office into disrepute.
“Mr. Singletary and the Judicial Conduct Board stipulated that ‘at the time, he did not recall these photographs were on his phone and he did not realize he would be showing them to [the Philadelphia Parking Authority contractor],’” Summers said in the statement. “The court appears to have rejected this finding in stating that it does not believe Mr. Singletary. The board has the obligation to prove this by clear and convincing evidence yet there, respectfully, appears none in the opinion. Further, the court seems, inexplicably, to say even if Mr. Singletary didn’t remember the pictures on the phone he had the reckless intent to engage in judicial misconduct.”
Robert Graci, the new chief counsel of the JCB as of October 1, said that the court “had no question that the judge’s conduct was intentional, that it satisfied the mens rea requirement and, apparently, to find that it brought the office into disrepute.”
The argument in the case was over what the facts meant, Graci said.
Graci was at Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott in Harrisburg and he was previously a Superior Court judge.
The court, however, said that the JCB did not establish that Singletary violated the rules governing the responsibilities of the minor judiciary to adjudicate cases with dignity, courtesy and patience, among other responsibilities. The JCB had alleged that such a violation had occurred in the 34 minutes in which Singletary was talking with the cashier, including telling her that he would like to go out with her and have an intimate relationship with her, the opinion said.
Singletary was not adjudicating cases because impoundment court was inactive when he was talking to the cashier, and it did not result in a violation of his adjudicative responsibilities, the opinion said.
Singletary showed 27 photographs to the contractor, including a photo of his mother and himself, photos of his daughters, a photo with Stevie Wonder, and then the explicit photos, the opinion said.
Singletary, moments later, showed 14 additional photographs, including pictures of his church, the opinion said.
Singletary, a nonlawyer, served as a Traffic Court judge from January 7, 2008, to February 27, 2012.
The only sanction left is to bar Singletary from ever holding judicial office again, Graci said.
Assistant counsel Elizabeth Flaherty has been handling the case for the JCB.
Singletary has previously been the subject of judicial discipline.
Singletary previously received a public reprimand and probation over a YouTube video in which he was recorded soliciting campaign funds from motorcycle riders while running for judge for the first time in 2007.
When Singletary was previously subject to judicial discipline, the court found that Singletary violated the state constitution by bringing the judicial office into disrepute by soliciting campaign funds and intimating that he would give favorable treatment to anyone who donated to his campaign. The court sanctioned him with a public reprimand and probation.
During his donation solicitation, Singletary asked the bikers, according to court papers: “Now you all want me to get there, you’re all going to need my hookup, right?’”
(Copies of the 19-page opinion in In re Singletary, PICS No. 12-1948, are available from The Legal Intelligencer. Please call the Pennsylvania Instant Case Service at 800-276-PICS to order or for information.) •