PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — An Allegheny County Common Pleas judge has been reassigned after reportedly making racially-charged remarks in a closed-door conference.
KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan has learned that career prosecutor and current Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Mark Tranquilli has been re-assigned after sources say he made the alleged remark two weeks ago. Now, his future is up in the air.
— Andy Sheehan (@AndySheehankdka) February 4, 2020
Prior to becoming a judge, Tranquilli served as Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala’s right-hand man, supervising all homicide prosecutions.
Known as a tough prosecutor, Tranquilli carried that attitude over to the bench, but now finds himself re-assigned after reportedly making racially-charged remarks in a closed door conference.
President Judge Kim Berkley Clark has issued an order temporarily re-assigning Tranquilli to summary appeals, where he will review magistrate cases ranging from traffic fines to truancy.
Judge Clark would not comment or confirm whether a complaint against Tranquilli has been filed. But sources say the action comes in response to Tranquilli’s handling of a drug case two weeks ago.
In a closed-door meeting with a defense attorney and an assistant district attorney, the topic was jury selection. According to sources, Tranquilli made a racist characterization of a black female juror and allegedly alluded to the crack-addicted father of the woman’s child.
There is no transcript of the conference, and no court reporter or stenographer was present.
The defense attorney, Joe Otte, told KDKA no comment; and late last week, the district attorney’s office also had no comment beyond saying it did not file a complaint against Tranquilli.
But in her order, Judge Clark alerts all members of the state Supreme Court of the re-assignment. This will likely be reviewed by that court’s Judicial Inquiry Review Board, but when contacted last week, the board said it also would not confirm or deny whether a complaint had been filed.
Tranquilli is a graduate of Baldwin High School and Allegheny College and received his law degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He was elected to the Common Pleas bench in 2013.
Tranquilli was not available for comment.