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PA Judge Dismissed Own Parking Tickets, Gets Dismissed Herself

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on March 02, 2012 5:03 AM

A Pennsylvania judge dismissed her own parking tickets. Now she's in trouble with the law. Magisterial District Judge Kelly Ballentine faces several criminal charges. She's accused of conflict of interest, tampering with public records, and obstruction of charges.

Police ticketed her car in front of her home several times in November of 2010. They also sent her a ticket for an expired registration. The summonses were issued in her name.

Judge Ballentine then went into the system and dismissed the summonses. She also failed to pay the tickets. The total amount she owed? Around $268.

Okay, so maybe there wasn't a hypothetical that encapsulates this scenario on the MPRE. There probably wasn't a question that read: "You're a judge and you have been ticketed. You dismiss your own tickets without paying them. Is this ethical?"

Even so, this is a serious breach of the trust for a judge. Judges are supposed to uphold the law, after all.

It's a lesson that this Pennsylvania judge will likely learn the hard way. She was released on a $25,000 bond after her arraignment. She was also placed on paid leave -- where she will remain until the charges are sorted out.

It seems like a hefty punishment and a whole lot to pay for trying to skirt $268 in ticket fees. But it is a relatively bad use of judicial power.

And really: a judge should know better. Lawyers already get such a bad reputation already for being "dishonest." A member of the judiciary should try not to perpetuate that stereotype.

The judge who dismissed her own parking tickets could end up facing jail time. Several of the felonies carry a penalty of up to three months in prison, reports the York Daily Record.

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