The Pittsburgh Black Lawyers Alliance is aware of allegations that Allegheny County District Attorney Steven Zappala instructed his staff to refuse to offer plea deals to clients of Attorney Milton Raiford after Raiford publicly raised the issue of systemic racism within the Allegheny County criminal justice system.
We believe Zappala’s specific written instructions to his staff to deny plea deals to Raiford’s clients were designed to target, penalize and humiliate Raiford for addressing the systemic racism within the District Attorney’s Office. Zappala’s use of his position and power to deny due process to Raiford’s clients perpetuates the systemic inequality and racism that Raiford called to eradicate and demonstrates that under Zappala’s watch, people get the process that Zappala believes they are due, and not the due process required and guaranteed by our Constitution.
These statements or instructions, if true, violate his oath as an Attorney and as the District Attorney, and render him unfit to serve as an elected official or as a member of the Pennsylvania Bar. Zappala’s actions are proof that he has unethically violated his duty to treat everyone who has been charged with a crime in Allegheny County fairly and equally as dictated by law. It is an egregious and arbitrary disregard of the foundation of our judicial system, and for the people he took an oath to serve.
We further contend that the appropriate entity should immediately conduct a full and fair investigation of the District Attorney’s Office regarding this clear abuse of power. If these allegations are true, the Pittsburgh Black Lawyers Alliance demands that Stephen Zappala immediately resign from the Office of the District Attorney of Allegheny County.