Kinkead: Allegheny County DA Zappala’s actions are reprehensible and must be immediately addressed

PITTSBURGH, June 4 – State Rep. Emily Kinkead, D-Allegheny, issued the following statement regarding Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala’s public comments against Milton Raiford, a Black attorney who spoke out against racism in the criminal justice system.

“It is undisputed that our criminal justice system has real, systemic and systematic issues of racism and Allegheny County is far from immune. DA Stephen Zappala’s decision not to address these issues but instead to instruct his staff not to offer plea deals to attorney Milton Raiford’s clients after he voiced concerns about these issues betrays public trust in their ability to receive equal justice in Allegheny County, not to mention violating attorney Raiford’s free speech rights.

“To potentially punish clients because of the statements their attorney made is beyond reprehensible and must be addressed immediately. This latest action raises additional concerns as to how the district attorney’s office has conducted its business, notably in how it has treated clients of other attorneys, including those with whom DA Zappala may have disagreed, now or in the past.

“Several of my colleagues in the state House and Senate today have joined me in signing a letter, urging DA Zappala to take immediate actions that would work to restore public confidence in the district attorney’s office, including rescinding the action taken against attorney Raiford and his clients as it pertains to plea deals, offering an apology to him and to the residents of Allegheny County, and agreeing to a review of his office by a special prosecutor regarding how fairly defendants have been treated.

“Our residents have a right to fair and equal treatment under the law, and we demand that actions be taken to ensure that those rights remain paramount in the district attorney’s office.”

Editors/Reporters: A copy of the letter sent to DA Zappala can be found at the following link: https://pahouse.com/files/Documents/2021-06-04_123131__Zappala%20Letter%20FINAL.pdf