Petition demands local judge be disbarred after alleged racist comments about juror

Local judge accused of making racially charged comments no longer presiding over cases

ALLEGHENY CO., Pa. — A number of organizations, elected officials and activists are demanding Judge Mark Tranquilli be disbarred after he allegedly made racially charged comments towards a juror.

Last week, Tranquilli was reassigned to perform administrative duties only and not preside over any cases based off these allegations.

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Tranquilli is accused of making the comments that were perceived as racist in chambers while referring to an African American female juror. He allegedly was not happy with her being on a jury that ultimately acquitted a drug suspect in a recent case.

“You weren’t out of strikes when you decided to put Aunt Jemima on the jury,” Tranquilli allegedly said, according to a letter from the Black Political Empowerment Project. “You know darn well that when she goes home to her baby daddy, he’s probably slinging heroin too.”

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The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office issued the following statement regarding Tranquilli’s situation:

"If an issue about discrimination in any respect is brought to the attention of one of our prosecutors, they are required to report that information to the First Assistant District Attorney. The First Assistant will then transmit that information to the proper authorities. That’s what happened in this instance.”

Tracy Baton, director of the Women’s March for Pittsburgh, and her team put together an online petition to have Tranquilli removed from the bench and disbarred. It already has nearly 2,000 signatures.

“To have him stop hearing cases and then to have his cases reviewed,” Baton said. "That review has already started and more than half of his cases have been shown to be at least dubious by other judges.”

Once there are enough signatures, that petition -- along with a letter -- will go straight to the Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania.

The defense attorney who heard what Tranquilli allegedly said told Channel 11 he cannot comment because there is an active investigation into what happened.

Local judge accused of making racially charged comments no longer presiding over cases