Allegheny County judge temporarily removed from hearing cases

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Mark Tranquilli, who was first reassigned to summary appeals, has now been ordered not to hear any cases at all.By order of President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark, Tranquilli is “temporarily assigned to perform administrative duties only” and cannot preside over any cases during that time. The order was issued Thursday morning.Click here to read the president judge’s order.On Tuesday, Action News Investigates reported that Tranquilli is alleged to have made a racially charged remark during a closed-door meeting involving Tranquilli, an assistant district attorney and defense attorney Joe Otte.A copy of Otte’s complaint to the Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania was obtained by Pittsburgh’s Action News 4. It says the incident occurred on January 24, after his client was acquitted on drug charges.Following his acquittal, Otte says Tranquilli requested to talk with him and assistant district attorney Ted Dutkowski.In his complaint, Otte wrote, “he immediately expressed his dissatisfaction with the jury. The judge then said that Ted had made a terrible decision by allowing ‘Aunt Jemima’ on the jury. The juror, juror number 4, was a young Black woman who had worn a head wrap.”The Black Political Empowerment Project (BPEP), responded to the allegations about Tranquilli with harsh criticism of the judge, “he needs to be off the bench, period,” Says BPEP chairman Tim Stevens. “He does not need to be on a judicial bench, he needs to be on a park bench, retired. We have to have faith in our judicial system.Judge Mark Tranquilli does not need to have the name judge in front of him, and he certainly does not deserve the name honorable.”Tranquilli was not available for comment. A spokesman for the district attorney’s office declined to comment, as did Otte.Tranquilli was elected in 2013 after serving for years as a top assistant to District Attorney Stephen Zappala.Read the statement from the Allegheny County Bar Association President Lori McMaster below: “In remaining steadfast to the Allegheny County Bar Association’s mission and values, we have a duty to our members, our clients, and the African-American and broader communities at large, to continue to take action to eliminate implicit and explicit racial bias in our legal system. As such, the ACBA is demanding a complete investigation by the Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania of Judge Tranquilli’s alleged communications to ensure that this matter receives prompt attention and a just resolution.”

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Mark Tranquilli, who was first reassigned to summary appeals, has now been ordered not to hear any cases at all.

By order of President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark, Tranquilli is “temporarily assigned to perform administrative duties only” and cannot preside over any cases during that time. The order was issued Thursday morning.

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Click here to read the president judge’s order.

On Tuesday, Action News Investigates reported that Tranquilli is alleged to have made a racially charged remark during a closed-door meeting involving Tranquilli, an assistant district attorney and defense attorney Joe Otte.

A copy of Otte’s complaint to the Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania was obtained by Pittsburgh’s Action News 4. It says the incident occurred on January 24, after his client was acquitted on drug charges.

Following his acquittal, Otte says Tranquilli requested to talk with him and assistant district attorney Ted Dutkowski.

In his complaint, Otte wrote, “he immediately expressed his dissatisfaction with the jury. The judge then said that Ted had made a terrible decision by allowing ‘Aunt Jemima’ on the jury. The juror, juror number 4, was a young Black woman who had worn a head wrap.”

The Black Political Empowerment Project (BPEP), responded to the allegations about Tranquilli with harsh criticism of the judge, “he needs to be off the bench, period,” Says BPEP chairman Tim Stevens. “He does not need to be on a judicial bench, he needs to be on a park bench, retired. We have to have faith in our judicial system.

Judge Mark Tranquilli does not need to have the name judge in front of him, and he certainly does not deserve the name honorable.”

Tranquilli was not available for comment. A spokesman for the district attorney’s office declined to comment, as did Otte.

Tranquilli was elected in 2013 after serving for years as a top assistant to District Attorney Stephen Zappala.

Read the statement from the Allegheny County Bar Association President Lori McMaster below:

“In remaining steadfast to the Allegheny County Bar Association’s mission and values, we have a duty to our members, our clients, and the African-American and broader communities at large, to continue to take action to eliminate implicit and explicit racial bias in our legal system. As such, the ACBA is demanding a complete investigation by the Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania of Judge Tranquilli’s alleged communications to ensure that this matter receives prompt attention and a just resolution.”