Judge Tucker's July 19, 2012 order in Pavlock v. Bureau of Administrative Adjudication begins to bring the PPA, and its adjudicatory arm, the BAA, into line with what the law in PA require at local admin hearings. More needs to be done to reform the PPA and BAA, though.
People generally don't know this, but everything about contesting parking ticket at BAA hearings is loaded against citizens. In creating the BAA, City Council stated in the ordinance's legislative findings that (although) the BAA is supposedly "neutral" and supposed to adjudicate parking tickets "fairly," its mission in part is to "increase the collection of parking program revenues." Sounds like a blatant conflict of interest to me.
Moreover, in writing the enabling legislation on how BAA hearings are to be conducted, City Council THREE TIMES enacted things that made it easy for the PPA to win at hearings. First, the said the only thing that is necessary to prove a violation at a hearing is the hearsay ticket itself. Period. SECOND, City Council stated that no city (PPA) representative is is ever required to appear to appear at a hearing. THIRD, the ordinance left off an important right found in Pennsylvania Administrative Agency law (Title 2, Pa C.S. Section 544): "Reasonable examination and cross -examination SHALL BE PERMITTED (at administrative hearings like parking ticket hearings). By doing all of this, City Council loaded the hearing process against citizens fighting tickets.
Even the modest acknowledgements to citizen rights found in the Philly BAA ordinance have been ignored by PPA and BAA over the past few years. Tickets are now not signed by the ticket writer (in direct violation of the ordinance requiring that they be signed by the officer) and BAA has routinely accepted this. Over the past few years, PPA ticket writers now merely write down the city-block of the location of the vehicle instead of the precise location. They're trained to do so (it's in their Enforcement Officer's Handbook!). In the Pavlock vs BAA case reported in the Daily News on 7/19/12, the BAA hearing examiner admitted that they NEVER bring in ticket writers to hearings, that ticket writers don't sign the tickets, and that ticket writers are TRAINED to write down the city block and not the exact location of the car. If you go to a hearing at BAA, before you go in, PPA prints out a record of your ticket history for the hearing examiner, which he is aware of when he's "fairly" adjudicating your present ticket. They never write down the reasons for an adverse determination either. All of this makes for a hearing that violates due process, PA law and Philly ordinance.
Last week, Judge Tucker issued an order making things a little fairer for citizens fighting tickets. He said that BAA has to institute procedures forthwith to afford citizens the right to examine and cross examine ticket writers, with advance notice to the BAA. He said that BAA can't adjudicate you liable on a ticket if it isn't signed (in accordance with existing Philly ordinance) and if it doesn't identify the precise location of the vehicle violation. He also said hrg examiners must issued their reasons and findings if he finds you liable. These reforms help to level the playing field a bit.
You should be aware of Judge Tucker's order when you fight a parking ticket. Get a copy of the 7/19/12 Daily News, which has a copy of Judge Tucker's order in it. The PPA is in the business of making money with brutally efficient parking enforcement, and has the BAA hearing examiners in their back pocket. Hearing examiners accept without question standard practice of PPA ticket writing, and have ignored PA law and other ordinance which guarantee rights to citizens. PPA and BAA have little accountability. PPA sponsors a Parking Wars reality TV show that mocks hapless citizens and tourists who have their cars towed. Is this what Lincoln described as government "of the people, by the people, and for the people"? People in Philadelphia are fed up with how the PPA and BAA are run, and ought to petition their City Council to make changes!