The federal judge presiding over the Philadelphia Traffic Court ticket-fixing cases issued a protective order for the tests taken by six indicted members of the minor judiciary.
Members of the Pennsylvania minor judiciary who are not attorneys must take examinations before they can take office, according to court papers.
Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed the certification exam as well as the test results of Mark A. Bruno, Michael Lowry, Robert Mulgrew, Willie F. Singletary, Michael J. Sullivan and Thomasine Tynes, according to court papers.
The Minor Judiciary Education Board said in court papers that it would comply with the subpoena, but requested a protective order requiring that the tests be kept secret, including from the defendants, unless used during trial.
The board’s counsel, Michael Daley with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, said that the “exam’s questions are the same each time the test is given, so disseminating the exam, its contents, and other requested documents would allow future test takers to have the exam in advance, which would severely hinder the MJEB’s certification process as mandated by Pennsylvania law.”
U.S. District Judge Robert F. Kelly of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ordered that the test materials shall not be disclosed by prosecutors unless the government intends to use them at trial, they are exculpatory or the court orders otherwise.
The board requested that the subpoenaed documents only be disclosed to the defense if the government intends to use them at trial or if they must be revealed as exculpatory material.
“While the exam’s confidentiality may not be important to public health and safety, it is important to the citizens of Pennsylvania that judges have knowledge of Traffic Court procedures, the traffic laws, and related subjects, as opposed to simply learning specific information for specific test questions,” the board’s counsel said.
In another development, Lowry and Mulgrew have joined Sullivan’s motion to dismiss their indictment.
Sullivan argues that his indictment should be dismissed because the alleged conduct is not a federal crime, only “compromising unethical judicial conduct.”
Sullivan argued that the crimes of mail and wire fraud require schemes to deprive victims of legally recognized, vested property rights, and that no “actionable property interest is implicated until a guilty adjudication.”
The possible fines are regulatory in nature, not property, Sullivan’s counsel argued.
“Instead of abiding by the [U.S.] Supreme Court’s limitations on the reach of the mail and wire fraud statutes, the government here proffers a theory that effectively seeks to criminalize judicial ethics violations and to usurp the authority of the Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Legislature, and the Pennsylvania voters, all of which not only possess the power to address judicial misconduct generally, but also have and continue to wield that power in this specific case,” Sullivan argued in defense papers.
Kelly granted Sullivan’s motion seeking oral argument over the motion to dismiss the indictment for June 24.
Denise S. Wolf and Anthony Wzorek of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania are prosecuting the case.
Three of the judges charged in the case have pled guilty.
Mulgrew and his wife are scheduled to go to trial June 5 in a separate case over allegations that Mulgrew participated in a scheme to defraud the state Department of Community and Economic Development out of state grant funds awarded to nonprofits. Mulgrew’s wife and he are also charged with committing tax fraud, including allegedly filing false tax returns in which they did not list over $67,000 in additional taxable income and which they listed allegedly false business deductions.
Their co-defendant, Lorraine Dispaldo, pled guilty last week to 30 counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, four counts of filing false personal income tax returns, and one count of bankruptcy fraud.