On Monday, Feb. 10, speaking on behalf of the Board of Governors, Pennsylvania Bar Association, President Anne N. John issued the following statement regarding allegations against Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Mark Tranquilli:
“The Pennsylvania Bar Association is committed to the fair administration of justice, and we insist that the dignity of every person always be safeguarded.
“The unbiased and impartial behavior of judges and their demonstration of respect and equal treatment for all are fundamentals in the judicial process. Any allegations of racially disparaging comments by a jurist must be fully investigated.
“We praise Allegheny County President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark for taking prompt action. Full and proper review of allegations of judicial bias is essential. Therefore, we look forward to the appropriate review by the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board and to a just resolution.”
Tranquilli is accused of repeatedly referring to a black juror as “Aunt Jemima. He reportedly made the racially-charged remarks on Jan. 24 during a conversation that was held in his chambers after the conclusion of a case in which a suspect being tried on a count of possession with intent to deliver was acquitted.
In his chambers, Tranquilli allegedly criticized the case’s prosecutor, Ted Dutkowski, for how potential jury members were screened and made several racist comments about a female African American juror who had work a hair wrap throughout the duration of the trial. He reportedly complained that he knew that Dutkowski wouldn’t get a conviction because of that particular juror, going so far as to say that the juror’s “baby daddy” likely sold drugs and that the suspect was likely deemed not guilty because of her “presumed bias in favor of heroin dealers.”
Tranquilli is now officially barred from hearing any cases, according to a court order that was issued by President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark.
“Judge Tranquilli shall not preside over any cases during this assignment,” Berkeley Clark wrote in the order.