While most people probably have more pressing things on their minds when they’re selected for jury duty, apparently we need to be scrutinizing what we wear, too.
A Pennsylvania judge has been stripped of “administrative duties” after allegedly calling a black juror, who showed up to trial in a head wrap, “Aunt Jemima.”
According to KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Mark Tranquilli was so angry after a jury issued a “not guilty” verdict at the end of a drug trial that lasted two weeks, he berated the defense attorney for allowing the black woman onto the jury.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Juror No. 4 was a young black woman who had worn a headwrap throughout the trial.
The judge expressed that he knew the D.A. wasn’t getting a conviction from the moment the woman was questioned.
In a closed-door meeting with Assistant District Attorney Ted Dutkowski and defense attorney Joe Otte, Tranquilli allegedly said: “You weren’t out of strikes when you decided to put Aunt Jemima on the jury,” referring to the option Dutkowski had to object to her selection.
The judge had the nerve to even insinuate the juror might be associated with a drug dealer. “You know darn well that when she goes home to her baby daddy, he’s probably slinging heroin, too,” Tranquilli is accused of saying in the complaint.
On Wednesday, the Black Political Empowerment Project in Pittsburgh called for the judge’s “immediate suspension.”
“We found these remarks beyond disturbing,” the group’s head, Tim Stevens, wrote. “With his racist views on record, he need not be in [a] position to judge anyone or anything.”
President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark issued a court order on Thursday “demanding a complete investigation by the Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania.”