A Pennsylvania judge has been taken off all cases and assigned to “administrative duties” after a complaint accused him of calling a black juror “Aunt Jemima.”
In a complaint filed by defense attorney Joe Otte and obtained by KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Mark Tranquilli was upset after a jury issued a “not guilty” verdict at the end of a drug trial that lasted two weeks.
In a closed-door meeting with Assistant District Attorney Ted Dutowski and Otte, Tranquilli asked Dutowski why he had allowed a black woman on the jury, according to the complaint.
“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.
Tranquilli then accused 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 is accused of saying.
The judge is now being investigated by the state judicial conduct board.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly named the person who filed the complaint. The complaint was filed by Joe Otte.