Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge David Cashman resigned from the Allegheny County Jail Oversight Board following two heated board meetings this week.
Cashman served on the board for about seven years and was serving as its chairman.
“I appreciate the accomplishments that we have achieved in reducing the population of the Jail and the cost of its operation,” Cashman wrote in a letter to President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark. “That being said, however, it would appear that I have become a lightning rod for the animosity directed at the Board by the individuals who purport to represent the transgender population of Allegheny County.”
Cashman’s office said the judge would not be commenting further on his resignation. His term as a Court of Common Pleas judge expires in 2021.
Cashman walked out of a special oversight board meeting Monday that was scheduled specifically to meet with activists representing the transgender community.
He walked out of Thursday’s regularly scheduled board meeting after about 45 minutes. That meeting came to a halt as two activists — Ciora Thomas, executive director of the Pittsburgh-based advocacy group SisTersPGH, and Christian Carter, a community organizer from East Liberty — were removed and cited for disrupting the meeting.
“We have attempted to accommodate those individuals and set up special meetings in order to discuss their particular concerns, however, we have not been able to quantify their particular problems and, as such, they have become more frustrated and combative,” Cashman wrote in the letter. “Their attitude towards the members of the Board has been antagonistic, vituperative and vindictive. The language that they have used in our last meetings can charitably be referred to as intemperate.”
Thomas could not be reached Friday.
Speaking with reporters after the board meeting Thursday, Thomas said she will be taking her concerns about mistreatment of inmates — particularly inmates who are members of the transgender community — to the state’s Commission on LGBTQ Affairs. Thomas is a member of the commission.
The nine-member board meets monthly and is comprised of the county chief executive, two judges from the Court of Common Pleas, county sheriff, county controller, county council president and three citizen representatives.
The next board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 5 at 4 p.m. in Conference Room 1 at the Allegheny County Courthouse.
The Aug. 1 meeting was never officially adjourned and public comment was not held. The Allegheny County Controller’s office will accept public comment for the Aug. 1 meeting in writing until further notice, according to the office website.