Law firms accuse Judge Allegheny Common Pleas of being illegal in 62 complaints

A local public interest law firm has filed 62 complaints against a county judge. Judges blame “impulsive, dignified, rude” behavior and prejudice against black men, the elderly, and people with mental or behavioral health problems.

The subject of the complaint, Anthony Mariani, has been a general petition judge in Allegheny County since 2005.

Dolly Prab, a lawyer at the Abolitionist Law Center who filed the complaint, said the allegations of illegal activity were A group of mainly volunteer court watchers I have observed Judge Mariani in court for over a year. Prabhu states that when court observers began to regularly monitor county courts in early 2020, Mariani “immediately stood out as a judge of particularly sneaky and abusive bullying.”

Click to enlarge Sketch of Anthony Mariani's Court Clock at the Abolitionist Law Center-Illustration by DARYAK HARABI

Illustration by Dariya Calabi

Anthony Mariani’s Court Clock Sketch at the Abolitionist Law Center

Complaints filed with the Pennsylvania Judicial Actions Commission require an investigation into alleged violations of at least six Mariani rules. Code of Justice.. These rules require judges to avoid improper or improper emergence and to carry out their judicial obligations “fairly, competently and diligently.”

Prabhu has filed numerous such complaints to demonstrate problematic behavioral patterns.

Jesse Allen, an associate professor of judicial ethics at the University of Pittsburgh Law School, said: Pittsburgh City Paper It is important to distinguish between occasional mistakes and permanent problems when considering judicial offenses.

“Judges have a very difficult job,” she says. “And I often face people you and I don’t particularly want to interact with, so I don’t want to immediately criticize the judge for saying that it looks pretty inappropriate when you think about it later. There is a tendency. ”

In this case, Allen has no independent knowledge of the allegations other than complaints, but states that “what is being alleged here is a long-term, clear pattern.” If the claim is true, she says, “It attacks me as serious.”

62 complaints allege that Mariani is regularly involved in several different patterns of judicial misconduct, including:

  • “Frustration, dignity, and rude behavior towards the defendant” often leads to allegations of infringement of the defendant’s rights heard in court.

  • Frequent “inappropriate comments” about the body of a black man

  • ALC’s repetitive remarks about the defendant’s age show prejudice against older defendants.

  • A pattern of “obsolete and unfavorable comments” about people with mental and behavioral health concerns.

“If the Judiciary Commission thoroughly investigates all these complaints, I think it’s clear that he’s not suitable for serving as a judge,” says Prab.

“Impatient, dignified, and rude”

Almost all complaints allege “impulsive, dignified, rude behavior towards the defendant,” alleging that this led to an infringement of the defendant’s rights heard in court.

The complaint reports dozens of cases in which Mariani shouted at the defendant, denied her right to speak, and told the defendant that she did not believe them. Some complaints include Mariani ridiculing and laughing at the defendant. Prabhu also says City paper Mariani will often “scream straight for a few minutes,” according to the court observer’s report.

“In my experience, other judges don’t,” says Prab.

One complaint details a March 31 hearing against a man allegedly violating parole for stealing $ 8 worth of food. Apparently, when the lawyer explained that his client was just “hungry and poor,” Mariani said, “Oh, don’t play that card.”

When the defendant raised his hand and spoke, the complaint said, “Marani shouted.” This is not a classroom! And when the defendant later tried to answer the question the judge asked him, Mariani cut him off and said, “Don’t answer! You can try to justify it, but it’s you can’t!”

According to Allen, being heard in court is one of the most basic rights of due process for those accused of crime. “If you are accused, you have the right to be asked depending on what the accusation is,” she says.

A complaint in December 2021 stated: “At this hearing, the defendant explained that she was pregnant for 17 weeks. Judge Mariani yelled at the defendant and said she did not believe her. After that, the judge ordered a presence report and asked for three hearings. The month has been postponed, “he sent the defendant back to Allegheny County Jail. (ACJ repetition Proceeded Allegedly failed to provide adequate care to pregnant people. )

“There is nothing you can say right in his court,” says Prabhu. “If you choose to speak for yourself, he will find a way to punish you for it …. He doesn’t like people making excuses and people about their mistakes. I also don’t like being accountable. ”

Comments on the body of a black man

In at least 14 complaints, Judge Mariani allegedly made inappropriate comments about the bodies of black men, “usually they are said to be big and strong.” Some complaints allege that after commenting on the defendant’s perceived size and strength, Mariani continued to treat the defendant as if he were guilty, even if the indictment was withdrawn. In the complaint, Prab felt that this pattern of suspicion was a major concern, as it “reflects a serious racial prejudice that perceives black men as more dangerous than others.” I write that there is.

Allen states that negative stereotypes are explicitly prohibited by the Code of Justice, as is the “stereotype-based attempt at humor.”

Prejudice of the elderly

At least 18 complaints relate to Mariani’s alleged prejudice against older defendants. According to complaints, Mariani often makes “derogatory comments about people’s age”, expressing his disapproval of their actions or doubts about their integrity.

At a hearing in December 2021, one complaint records what Mariani said about the young defendant.

“If you are over a certain age, or if he does not recognize you as young, he clearly sees if these people have the ability to change, or if they deserve another chance. And it really colors how he treats the defendant, which is very worrisome, “says Prab.

Prejudice of mental illness

At least five complaints refer to Mariani, who allegedly “makes outdated and unfavorable comments about individuals with mental health disorders.” These complaints indicate that Mariani is seeking more serious accusations and stricter judgments against defendants with behavioral health concerns such as mental illness or addiction.

“Some people claim to have a mental health illness they don’t have,” Mariani said at a hearing in December 2021. “41 years ago, no one mentioned things like bipolar disorder, but suddenly everyone got bipolar disorder …. they weakened that meaning.”

Prabhu states that this alleged example “shows a great misunderstanding about how and when mental illness appears” by Mariani.It’s a shame he’s not very well educated on this issue, “says Prabhu. CP.. “These people have not been tried fairly.”

“I think the pendulum has swung too much in the next direction. [mental health] Mariani was reportedly ordered to exclude the defendant from the treatment program and send it to ACJ at a probation hearing in January 2022.

“He doesn’t consider how long periods of repeated imprisonment affect people’s ability to cleanse, receive mental health treatments, and live together,” says Prab. .. Instead, he blames them as if it were the power of their personal will. “

More than 20 complaints document that Mariani commented on the Allegheny County Jail, downplaying the situation there and suggesting that imprisonment in the prison would have a positive impact on the defendants. For Prav, Mariani’s alleged comment on the prison was “really, really worried.”

“He downplays the terrible human rights abuses in Allegheny County Jail,” says Prab. He is said to have mentioned in some complaints that ACJ offers “green” or “slimy” Bologna or “cat food”.

“The fact that he finds it interesting to give a green barony to a slimy moldy bread is a phrase he loves to use, that is, it’s sadistic,” she says. ..

Gerard Thomas

Mariani has already withheld an investigation request after her recent death at the age of 26. Gerard ThomasDied in prison shortly after Mariani refused to release him when the charges were withdrawn.
Juana Sanders, Thomas’ mother, who last met her son in Mariani’s court, argues that Mariani’s alleged prejudice can have fatal consequences.

Sanders says CP When she entered Mariani’s court for her son’s February hearing, she wanted Gerald to return home after being imprisoned by ACJ for over a year because the charges against Gerald were withdrawn. Instead, she shouted through a hearing, Mariani, whose attitude was “very, very, very arrogant,” and made negative and racist assumptions about Gerald.

“Mariani continued her power trip,” says Sanders. “It was painful for him to attack everyone in the room on his own. He did what he wanted to do. His son was already with us because Mariani sent him back to prison for no reason. I’m not here, “says Sanders.

“I hold Mariani responsible for the death of her son,” she wrote to the Judicial Action Committee. “My son’s blood is in his hands. If this is his daily routine, he needs to be off the bench.”

Mariani’s office refused to comment on the story.

Law firms accuse Judge Allegheny Common Pleas of being illegal in 62 complaints

Source link Law firms accuse Judge Allegheny Common Pleas of being illegal in 62 complaints

Related Articles

Back to top button