Juana Saunders: Transparency would help restore confidence in our judiciary

TribLIVE, 05/15/24: “The last time I saw my 26-year-old son, Gerald Thomas, was in Allegheny Court of Common Pleas Judge Anthony Mariani’s courtroom. The judge profiled and belittled him in open court, and needlessly extended his pretrial incarceration. My son died in jail shortly after. When I learned about the Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania, which is supposed to hold judges accountable to the standards of ethical conduct required by Pennsylvania law, I immediately filed a complaint with the board.

‘I’m looking at state prison for this young man who won’t quit embracing the guns and drugs street life … .’

This is what Mariani said about my son — a statement loaded with baseless assumptions. Gerald was incarcerated due to nonviolent criminal charges, which were all dropped at the time of this hearing. But Mariani didn’t want to release him. He told my son’s lawyer that he wanted to send Gerald to state prison unless his lawyer could prove that doing so would violate the law.

‘He keeps wanting to be a street guy. I’m surprised he wasn’t driving something with 22s on it.’

Gerald was a bright young man with a promising future. He was a selfless son who would always check on me and listen to how my day was. He never forgot to say ‘I love you Mama,’ even when he was in jail. He was a loving father to his four beautiful young children. But Mariani saw him as nothing more than a violent criminal.”

Read the full op-ed here.