Pittsburgh Judge Reassigned After Referring To Black Female Juror As ‘Aunt Jemima’; Called Defendant A ‘Drug Dealer’ In Open Court; Made Other Racial Comments As Well: Report

An Allegheny county Pennsylvania judge has been reassigned after he reportedly referred to a Black female juror in the trial of an accused drug dealer as Aunt Jemima, according to a complaint filed by a defense lawyer involved in the case, according to The Post-Gazette.

The judge allegedly made the comments subsequent to the trial of a man charged with drug offenses, and the comments were made in the judge’s chamber in front of the prosecutor in the case and the defendant’s attorney.

The judge was reportedly “visibly upset” after the jury delivered a not guilty verdict.

The complaint also says the judge said he knows that the woman’s “baby daddy” probably sells heroin and that her “presumed bias in favor of heroin dealers had caused or contributed to the not guilty verdict.”

Common Pleas Judge Mark Tranquilli has refused comment, according to The Post-Gazette, a far cry from when he allegedly berated the prosecutor in the case for allowing the young Black female juror, who wore a head-wrap throughout the trial, to be chosen as a juror.

Evidently, Tranqulli wanted a conviction bad.

The defendant is also reportedly Black; he was found not guilty after a 2 day trial, and the judge was reportedly unhappy abut that.

The defendant had been previously convicted of simple possession and was being retried on a count of possession with intent to deliver following a hung jury. After a day of jury selection and two days of trial, the jury found the defendant not guilty.

“Following the verdict, Judge Tranquilli was visibly upset,” Mr. Otte’s complaint said. “When he received the verdict slip, he read it and immediately tossed it back at his minute clerk.”–The Post Gazette

According to The Gazette-Post, after the verdict was announced, the judge called the defendant forward to sentence him on the remaining charge of simple possession and then proceeded to detail the man’s prior convictions in front of the jury, including referring to the man as a “drug dealer”.

Tranquilli is a former homicide prosecutor who was elected to the bench in 2013.

Calls are growing for him to be suspended from the bench indefinitely, including by Pittsburgh’s Black Political Empowerment Project, which wrote a letter to the President of the district’s judges urging such action.

“We found these remarks beyond disturbing,” B-PEP Chairman Tim Stevens said in the letter. “With his racist views on record he need not be in position to judge anyone or anything.

“We ask that Judge Mark Tranquilli not be allowed to practice his racist attitudes on any future cases in Allegheny County, and that he be immediately removed from any active service for the courts of Allegheny.”

Tranquilli has been temporarily barred from hearing cases. The Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board is reportedly considering an investigation.


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