Remove and disbar Judge Mark V. Tranquilli for directing racial slurs toward a juror.

Remove and disbar Judge Mark V. Tranquilli for directing racial slurs toward a juror.

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Women's March, Pittsburgh started this petition to Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania and

 Following a Jury Trial in late January 2020, Judge Tranquilli made several racist, derogatory remarks in reference to an African American juror while in his chambers meeting with Allegheny County Assistant District Attorney Ted Dutkowski and Defense Attorney Joe Otte. In the case in question, Judge Tranquilli was presiding over a Jury Trial where the defendant was alleged to have been selling narcotics.  While questioning ADA Dutkowski’s reasoning as to why he did not move to strike the African American woman from the jury during jury selection, Judge Tranquilli stated: “You weren’t out of strikes when you decided to put Aunt Jemima on the jury.” These comments were made in reference to the “headdress” the juror was wearing during the trial. Judge Tranquilli also expressed his displeasure with the jury’s verdict by stating: “You know darn well that when she goes home to her baby daddy, he’s probably slinging heroin too”.


It is the responsibility of every Judge in this Commonwealth to act in a manner that promotes public confidence.  Judges are bound by the PA Code of Judicial Conduct. The comments made by Judge Tranquilli undermine public confidence in the judiciary, are deeply biased and show that this judge has no regard for his oath of office. His vile, racist statements are not only disqualifying for a Judge but is disqualifying to stand before the Pennsylvania Bar.   He is currently hearing cases. This must stop. 


Join us. Sign the petition to demand that Judge Mark V. Tranquilli be immediately suspended, without pay,  pending the outcome of a complete investigation by the Judicial Conduct Board. These allegations must be investigated.  Should this investigation prove the allegations to be true, Judge Tranquilli should not only be removed from the bench but he should no longer be allowed to practice law.  

 

As citizens we sign to state our grave concerns and demand the following: 


The immediate suspension, without pay, of Judge Mark Vinson Tranquilli pending the outcome of a thorough investigation into the remarks alleged above.
A thorough review of all cases wherein the defendant was an African American.
Public hearing/comment before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to allow the citizens to voice their concern with the unethical conduct practiced by Judge Tranquilli.
Disbarment from the practice of law.

 

LETTER TO JUDICIAL CONDUCT BOARD OF PA AND DISCIPLINARY BOARD


Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania

601 Commonwealth Avenue, Suite 3500

P.O. Box 62525

Harrisburg, PA 17120


Supreme Court of Pennsylvania - Disciplinary Board (District IV)

437 Grant Street

Frick Building, Suite 1300

Pittsburgh, PA 15219


Re: Judge Mark Vinson Tranquilli, PA Supreme Court ID No. 66896


To Whom It May Concern:


  Following a Jury Trial in late January 2020, Judge Tranquilli made several racist, derogatory remarks in reference to an African American juror while in his chambers meeting with Allegheny County Assistant District Attorney Ted Dutkowski and Defense Attorney Joe Otte. In the case in question, Judge Tranquilli was presiding over a Jury Trial where the defendant was alleged to have been selling narcotics.  While questioning ADA Dutkowski’s reasoning as to why he did not move to strike the African American woman from the jury during jury selection, Judge Tranquilli stated: “You weren’t out of strikes when you decided to put Aunt Jemima on the jury.” These comments were made in reference to the “headdress” the juror was wearing during trial. Judge Tranquilli also expressed his displeasure with the jury’s verdict by stating: “You know darn well that when she goes home to her baby daddy, he’s probably slinging heroin too”.


We are alleging that Judge Tranquillis comments violated the following rules for Judicial Conduct:


Rule 1.2. of the Pennsylvania Code of Judicial Conduct,  Promoting Confidence in the Judiciary, provides that: 

A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.

Comments to the Rule describe that the test for appearance of impropriety is whether the conduct would create in reasonable minds a perception that the judge violated this Code or engaged in other conduct that reflects adversely on the judge’s honesty, impartiality, temperament, or fitness to serve as a judge.


We are alleging that the remarks made by Judge Tranquilli violate Rule 1.2


Rule 2.3. of the Pennsylvania Code of Judicial Conduct, Bias, Prejudice, and Harassment, provides that:

(A) A judge shall perform the duties of judicial office, including administrative duties, without bias or prejudice.

(B) A judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice, or engage in harassment, including but not limited to bias, prejudice, or harassment based upon race, sex, gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation, and shall not permit court staff, court officials, or others subject to the judge’s direction and control to do so.

(C) A judge shall require lawyers in proceedings before the court to refrain from manifesting bias or prejudice, or engaging in harassment, based upon attributes including but not limited to race, sex, gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation, against parties, witnesses, lawyers, or others.

(D) The restrictions of paragraphs (B) and (C) do not preclude judges or lawyers from making legitimate reference to the listed factors, or similar factors when they are relevant to an issue in a proceeding.

Comment to the Rule describes that:

(1) A judge who manifests bias or prejudice in a proceeding impairs the fairness of the proceeding and brings the judiciary into disrepute.

(2) Examples of manifestations of bias or prejudice include but are not limited to epithets; slurs; demeaning nicknames; negative stereotyping; attempted humor based upon stereotypes; threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts; suggestions of connections between race, ethnicity, or nationality and crime; and irrelevant references to personal characteristics. Even facial expressions and body language can convey to parties and lawyers in the proceeding, jurors, the media, and others an appearance of bias or prejudice. A judge must avoid conduct that may reasonably be perceived as prejudiced or biased.

Rule 2.8. Decorum, Demeanor, and Communication with Jurors.

(A) A judge shall require order and decorum in proceedings before the court.

(B) A judge shall be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, court staff, court officials, and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity, and shall require similar conduct of lawyers, court staff, court officials, and others subject to the judge’s direction and control.

(C) A judge shall not commend or criticize the verdict of the jury other than in a court order or opinion in a proceeding. This Rule does not prohibit a judge from expressing appreciation to the jurors for their service to the judicial system and to the community. Judges are expected to maintain their supervisory role over a deliberating jury.


As citizens we sign to state our grave concerns and demand the following: 


The immediate suspension, without pay, of Judge Mark Vinson Tranquilli pending the outcome of a thorough investigation into the remarks alleged above.
A thorough review of all cases wherein the defendant was an African American.
Public hearing/comment before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to allow the citizens to voice their concern with the unethical conduct practiced by Judge Tranquilli.
Disbarment from the practice of law.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.  We seek immediate action to end this threat to justice in the state of Pennsylvania. 

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