A Pittsburgh judge has been taken off all cases and assigned to “administrative duties” after a complaint accused him of calling a black juror “Aunt Jemima,” according to a complaint obtained by KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh.
In a complaint filed by Assistant District Attorney Ted Dutowski, Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Mark Tranquilli was upset after a jury returned a “not guilty” verdict at the end of a drug trial that lasted two weeks.
In a closed-door meeting with a defense attorney and Dutowski, Tranquilli asked Dutowski why he had allowed a black woman on the jury.
“You weren’t out of strikes when you decided to put Aunt Jemima on the jury,” Tranquilli allegedly said, referring to the option Dutowski had to object to her selection.
The document alleges Tranquilli said of the woman who had her hair in a headdress, “As soon as she sat down, she crossed her arms and looked like this.”
Dutokwski said the judge then crossed his arms and scowled, accusing the juror of being involved with selling drugs.
“You know darn well that when she goes home to her baby daddy, he’s probably slinging heroin, too,” Tranquilli allegedly said.
The state judicial conduct board has now opened an investigation into the judge.