[author: Aaron Kase]
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is known as a combative jurist, with a reputation for issuing outspoken opinions and scathing dissents from the bench. On a recent trip to Philadelphia, however, the 26-year veteran of the country’s highest court found there was one foe he couldn’t take on: The city’s notoriously strict parking authority, the PPA.
While Scalia was speaking to the local Federalist Society at a swank downtown club, two Supreme Court vehicles were ticketed for parking in a loading area out on the street. The loading zone had a 20-minute limit, while the justice’s cars were there for at least 48.
The PPA clearly wasn’t intimidated by the nation’s longest-serving high court justice, even though one of the cars had a placard stating that it was on official U.S. Supreme Court business. The parking agency has such a reputation for ruthlessness that it has its own cable show, “Parking Wars,” and the head of the authority confirmed that Scalia will not get any special treatment. “The vehicle was ticketed and the ticket is valid,” PPA Executive Director Vince Fenerty told a local newspaper. “We don’t recognize placards as permission to park illegally.”
Justice Scalia was in Philly to read from his new book, “Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts.” Perhaps in his legal reading he should familiarize himself with the litany of parking violations that one can run up against in the city.
The loading zone tickets will cost the justice $31 a pop, unless he chooses to contest them at the city’s Bureau of Administrative Adjudication. In truth, Scalia got off easy — the most expensive tickets issued by the PPA are $301, for parking in handicapped spots and a few other violations. However, multiple fines can accumulate — if Scalia picks up three or more tickets that he doesn’t pay, his car could be booted, which carries an additional $150 fine as well as the requirement that all tickets be paid before the boot is removed.
People who wish to appeal their parking tickets have an uphill battle but might benefit from meticulous preparation to argue their case. “Make the request of the hearing, and demand the right to cross-examine the enforcement officer, and obviously prepare for the hearing,” Philadelphia-area attorney Fintan McHugh, of Petrikin, Wellman, Damico, Brown & Petrosa, told Lawyers.com. “Bring whatever evidence you think is necessary.”
Earlier this year a judge ordered that the ticket issuer must show up to an appeals hearing if requested by the appellant; however the city said it will be ignoring that ruling pending its own appeal.
Most motorists accused of violations don’t bother to hire an attorney since the legal fees would easily outstrip even several hundred dollars in tickets. However, for people who want to make a point or elevate their appeal from the adjudication bureau to court, a good attorney can help make the case. If Scalia doesn’t wish to represent himself in his hypothetical appeal, he could consider a list of Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers.
If the appeal gets rejected, and most of them do, motorists can take their claim to the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. From there, in theory, the decision could be appealed up into higher courts, even all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Presumably, Scalia would recuse himself.
Do you think Scalia should have been exempt from parking laws?