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A black judge from western Pennsylvania rejected a plea agreement for a man accused of fighting with police during a traffic stop, saying it was “a ridiculous plea that only goes to white boys.”

The plea agreement was for a sentence of three months probation. Allegheny County Judge Joseph Williams said on Tuesday that a black defendant in that situation would not have been treated as leniently.

In court, Williams told Assistant District Attorney Brian Catanzarite that he,

“For some reason comes up with I think ridiculous pleas whenever it’s a young white guy, just telling you what my observation is. If this had been a black kid who did the same thing, we wouldn’t be talking about three months’ probation.”

Catanzarite responded with:

“Now that the court has essentially called me a racist, I think that’s unfair. I don’t make offers based on race. I make offers based on facts.”

Judge Williams later excused himself from the case, and a white judge accepted the plea agreement for 24-year-old Jeffery McGowan.

The defendant, who had no criminal record, agreed to plead guilty to disorderly conduct, and had faced charges including aggravated assault.

On Tuesday, Mike Manko, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, told the Tribune-Review the plea deal was appropriate and agreed to by the officer, who was not injured.

“Negotiated pleas are never based on the race of a particular defendant but rather on the behavior of the defendant and the facts associated with that behavior.”

Do you believe in the judge’s opinion?

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