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February 22, 2013 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

WATCHBLOG: Another judge in trouble over ticket-fixing

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

FIX-IT YOURSELF: Judge Kelly Ballentine fixed her own tickets by using her position of authority to dismiss citations.

HARRISBURG – Stop me if you’re heard this one before: a Pennsylvania judge is in hot water for using her authority to get out of a few simple traffic tickets.

A few weeks after the sweeping indictments at the Philadelphia Traffic Courtand in the middle of the state government’s attempted overhaul of that corruption-riddled legal establishment – the state’s Judicial Conduct Board on Friday filed formal charges against Magisterial District Judge Kelly S. Ballentine, who earlier this month plead guilty to three counts of tampering with public records in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas.

In court, Ballentine admitted to entering the court’s computer system on two separate occasions in December 2010 and Janaury 2011 to dismiss a total of three traffic tickets that had been issued to her.  On both occasions, she wrote “dismissed” and her own initials on the citations.

She did this, we can only assume, because why wouldn’t you dismiss your own traffic tickets if you had the ability to do it?

She plead guilty on Feb. 13 and is awaiting sentencing.

According to a court transcript, Judge Charles Smith noted the irony of Ballentine’s guilty plea coming exactly one day after 12 employees – including nine current or former judges – at the Philadelphia Traffic Court were charged with corruption and ticket-fixing for politically-connected friends.

“Every kind of breakdown in the system is a big deal,” Smith told Ballentine.

Ballentine has the right to a public trial before the Judicial Conduct Board.  If they determine that she violated the rules governing judicial conduct, she can be subject to sanctions including suspension or removal from the bench.

She is currently suspended with pay, according to court records.

Boehm can be reached at Eric@PAIndependent.com and follow @PAIndependent on Twitter for more.

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Eric Boehm is a reporter for PA Independent. He can be reached at Eric@PAIndependent.com or at (717) 350-0963.

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