Prosecutor outlines handling of bias in plea deal assertions

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The head prosecutor in Pittsburgh is expounding on his policy regarding plea deals, days after it became public that he told his staff to no longer offer them to clients of a Black criminal defense lawyer who called the office “systematically racist.” Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. announced Monday his office will investigate any claim by a defense lawyer or unrepresented defendant who raise concerns that a plea offer shows racial or other bias. His new policy says that when a lawyer or defendant claims plea talks have treated them differently because of “protected status,” the prosecutor has to look into it and report what’s occurred.

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