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Allegheny County judge facing charges from state judicial board after alleged racist comments

PITTSBURGH — The state’s judicial conduct board has filed formal charges against an Allegheny County judge.

Judge Mark Tranquilli was put on administrative duties earlier this year because of accusations that he made racist comments about a Black, female juror.

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The conduct board has filed a petition for Tranquilli to be suspended with or without pay while the board continues its investigation.

Those comments, which were apparently made in his chambers to an assistant district attorney, were as follows: “You weren’t out of strikes when you decided to put Aunt Jemima on the jury.”

Tranquilli’s attorney told our news partners at on Tuesday that the state judicial conduct board is “almost done” with its inquiry. He added that at that point, Tranquilli will be able to respond publicly to the allegations.

The comments Tranquilli allegedly made during a family court custody issue with a Black family were listed in a complaint. While discussing the issue of communication between the parents, he used an accent and dialect described as Ebonics, according to the complaint.

He’s also accused of telling the family that he didn’t care about their children and that he was a butcher who would “Split (their) baby in half and sleep like a baby that night.”

A number of organizations have been fighting for Tranquilli to be removed from the bench, including the Pittsburgh Black Lawyers Alliance. They hope he is suspended without pay as well.

“We hope if the evidence proves that all of that has occurred that there would be a removal from the bench,” said Nicola Henry-Taylor, of the PBLA. “Let’s keep in mind that some of the allegations that were in the complaint are on transcripts. So those were ... taken down by a certified court reporter.”

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