PITTSBURGH (The Blaze/AP) -- 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."
Allegheny County Judge Joseph Williams, who is black, claimed on Tuesday that a black defendant in the same situation would not have been treated as leniently.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says Williams made the comments after a prosecutor proposed three months of probation for a white man with no criminal record who agreed to plead guilty to disorderly conduct.
Williams recused himself after making the comments and a white judge accepted the plea agreement for 24-year-old Jeffery McGowan, who had faced charges including aggravated assault.
Williams' secretary on Wednesday told The Associated Press the judge does not give interviews.
However in court, he did offer some "observations":"(Assistant District Attorney Brian) Catanzarite for some reason comes up with I think ridiculous pleas whenever it's a young white guy," Williams said. "I'm 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," the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.
"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," Catanzarite responded to the paper.
When Williams was asked in court if he was rejecting the deal only because the defendant was white, he gave seemingly conflicting answer: "Not because he's white, but because it's a ridiculous plea that only goes to white boys that come into this court for the same facts, and I'm not going for it."
This isn't the first time race has come up in Williams's court. The Tribune-Review reports that last week he denied a request by a black man for a re-trial because the jury in the case was all white, but admitted that the jury probably didn't understand Bey's rough upbringing.