Court of Judicial Discipline finds lewd cell phone photo a matter of 'disrepute'
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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."
Mr. Singletary said he did not recall that the two photographs were on his phone.
Mr. Singletary was suspended without pay Jan. 5 by the state Supreme Court, after having been first suspended from his judicial duties Dec. 23 by Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Gary S. Glazer, the administrative judge of the Traffic Court, because Mr. Singletary showed the dual images of his genitals to a cashier.
The opinion resulted in a most unusual judicial 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."
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 Mr. Singletary had the mental intention -- known as 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],' " Mr. Summers said in the statement. "The court appears to have rejected this finding in stating that it does not believe Mr. Singletary."
The photos were displayed, according to court and Judicial Conduct Board records, while Mr. 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.
Mr. 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.
Mr. Singletary, a nonlawyer, served as a Traffic Court judge from Jan. 7, 2008, to Feb. 27, 2012. He has previously been the subject of judicial discipline 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.
During his donation solicitation, Mr. 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?"
First Published October 15, 2012 12:00 am