A Pennsylvania judge is facing numerous charges for misconduct due to his blatantly racist behavior while overseeing cases. Judge Mark V. Tranquilli of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, is accused of mistreating Black defendants, plaintiffs, and jurors in court and there is no doubt that his personal beliefs played a role in the decisions that he made in these cases.
Tranquilli was placed on administrative leave earlier this year after he crossed the line by referring to a Black juror as “Aunt Jemima.” Tranquilli’s suspension provoked an immediate investigation by the state’s conduct review board, which found an extensive pattern of racist behavior from the judge that dated back several years. For some reason, Tranquilli never faced any serious consequences for his previous treatment of Black people in his courtroom, but there was a record of numerous complaints. The judge is now facing at least six counts of judicial misconduct and the investigation has not even been completed yet.
Court documents show that Tranquilli made bizarre biblical references in court and was extremely harsh and degrading when dealing with Black people. In one 2015 custody case, in which both parties involved were Black, Tranquilli reportedly told them that he did not care about them or their children. He also referred to himself as a “butcher,” and told the parents he would “split [their] baby in half like Solomon and sleep like a baby at night,” according to Law And Crime.
In that same case, Tranquilli changed his voice and manner of speaking to mock the family. When setting guidelines for the couple’s interactions, the judge said, “And when I say communication, I don’t mean ‘and den da bitch done dis, and den da bitch done dat.’”
There is also evidence that Tranquilli’s racist opinions influenced the decisions that he made on the bench. In one case last year, the judge was furious that a jury decided on a “not guilty” verdict for a black defendant that he threatened to “cast down amongst the Sodomites” in prison.
After the verdict was announced, Tranquilli called the prosecutor into his private chambers and berated him for choosing Black people to serve on the jury. Tranquilli allegedly told the prosecutor, “You weren’t out of strikes when you decided to put Aunt Jemima on the jury,” in reference to a young Black woman who wore her hair in a headscarf.
Speaking of the juror, the judge told the prosecutor that they should have known “darn well that when she goes home to her baby daddy, he’s probably slinging heroin too.”
Of course, it would have been entirely illegal for the prosecutor to strike a juror because of their race, but the judge seemed to be expecting them to do that anyway.
The complaint against the judge stated that his actions “undermine both public confidence in the judiciary and its reputation.”
Tranquilli will not face any jail time if he is convicted of the charges against him, but he could face removal from the bench and possible sanctions. The conduct review board is calling for Tranquilli to be removed from his position, and has suggested that keeping him on as a judge will be detrimental to public trust in the legal system.
Read the full complaint below: