July 15th, 2024

Young Thug’s trial on hold as defense tries to get judge removed from case


By Kate Brumback, The Associated Press on July 1, 2024.

Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Lamar Williams, and his lawyer, Brian Steel, watch Judge Ural Glanville speak during the hearing of key witness Kenneth Copeland at the Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta on June 10, 2024. The judge overseeing the racketeering and gang prosecution against Young Thug and others on Monday, July 1, 2024 put the long-running trial on hold until another judge rules on requests by several defendants that he step aside from the case. (Miguel Martinez/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, file)

ATLANTA (AP) – The judge overseeing the racketeering and gang prosecution against Young Thug and others on Monday put the long-running trial on hold until another judge rules on requests by several defendants that he step aside from the case.

Lawyers for the rapper and several other defendants had filed motions seeking the recusal of Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Ural Glanville after he held a meeting with prosecutors and a prosecution witness at which defendants and defense attorneys were not present. They said the meeting was “improper” and said the judge and prosecutors tried to pressure the witness, who had been granted immunity, into giving testimony.

Jurors, who were already on a break until July 8, would be notified that they will not be needed until the matter is resolved, Glanville said.

This is the latest delay in the trial that has dragged on for over a year, in part because of numerous problems. Jury selection in the case began in January 2023 and took nearly 10 months. Opening statements were in November and the prosecution has been presenting its case since then, calling dozens of witnesses.

Young Thug, a Grammy winner whose given name is Jeffery Williams, was charged two years ago in a sprawling indictment accusing him and more than two dozen other people of conspiring to violate Georgia’s anti-racketeering law. He also is charged with gang, drug and gun crimes and is standing trial with five of the others indicted with him.

Glanville last month held Young Thug’s attorney Brian Steel in contempt for refusing to tell the judge how he found out about the out-of-court meeting. Steel was ordered to serve 10 consecutive weekends in jail, but the Georgia Supreme Court put that penalty on hold pending an appeal.

During a hearing Monday without jurors present, Glanville said he would release the transcript of the meeting that he had with prosecutors and state witness Kenneth Copeland and Copeland’s lawyer. He said he would also allow another judge to decide whether he should be removed from the case.

Glanville told the lawyers he would enter the order sending the recusal matter to another judge, adding, “We’ll see you in a little bit, depending upon how it’s ruled upon, alright?”

“Your honor, do we have a timeline of when the motion to recuse may be heard?” prosecutor Simone Hylton asked.

“Don’t know,” Glanville responded, saying the court clerk has to assign it to another judge. “I don’t have anything to do with that.”

Hylton asked if the matter could be expedited, citing concerns about holding jurors “indefinitely.”

Glanville said he understood that concern and that he hoped it would be acted upon quickly.

Glanville has maintained there was nothing improper about the meeting. He said prosecutors requested it to talk about Copeland’s immunity agreement.

Young Thug has been wildly successful since he began rapping as a teenager and he serves as CEO of his own record label, Young Stoner Life, or YSL. Artists on his record label are considered part of the “Slime Family,” and a compilation album, “Slime Language 2,” rose to No. 1 on the charts in April 2021.

But prosecutors say YSL also stands for Young Slime Life, which they allege is an Atlanta-based violent street gang affiliated with the national Bloods gang and founded by Young Thug and two others in 2012. Prosecutors say people named in the indictment are responsible for violent crimes – including killings, shootings and carjackings – to collect money for the gang, burnish its reputation and expand its power and territory.

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