Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Young Thug’s Lawyer Won’t Report to Jail After Georgia Supreme Court Grants Emergency Motion

Young Thug’s Lawyer Won’t Report to Jail After Georgia Supreme Court Grants Emergency Motion

Young Thug’s attorney Brian Steel will not have to report to jail this weekend on criminal contempt charges after the Georgia Supreme Court granted his emergency motion for bond.

The ruling, issued Wednesday (June 12), came two days after the Atlanta judge overseeing Young Thug’s gang trial held Steel in criminal contempt in a bizarre courtroom episode centered on claims of a secret meeting between the judge, prosecutors and a key witness.

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The decision means that Steel’s jail sentence — 20 days, to be served over ten consecutive weekends starting this Friday — will be put on pause until the Supreme Court rules on his appeal of the contempt order, which his attorneys have argued was an abuse of the judge’s authority.

An attorney for Steel did not immediately return a request for comment.

On Monday (June 10), months into the massive racketeering trial, Steel alerted Judge Ural Glanville that he had learned of a secret “ex parte” meeting that morning between the judge, prosecutors and a witness named Kenneth Copeland. Steel argued that such a meeting, without defense counsel present, had potentially involved coercion of a witness and was clear grounds for a mistrial.

Rather than address Steel’s complaints, Glanville instead repeatedly demanded that he divulge who had informed him about a private meeting in his chambers, suggesting the leak was illegal: “If you don’t tell me how you got this information, you and I are going to have problems.”

Steel refused to do so, saying that it had been the meeting itself that was the problem. “You’re not supposed to have communication with a witness who’s been sworn,” he told the judge. Steel said he had been told that during the meeting, prosecutors and the judge had pressed Copeland to testify by saying he could be held in jail for an extended period of time if he did not do so.

“If that’s true, what this is is coercion, witness intimidation,” Steel told Glanville.

In an extraordinary exchange, the two continued to argue until Glanville eventually ordered Steel removed from the courtroom by a court officer. In an order issued later on Monday — with Steel now represented by another well-known Georgia criminal defense attorney —Glanville ultimately sentenced Steel to spend 20 days in jail, to be served over 10 consecutive weekends.

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In a dramatic twist, Steel requested that he be allowed to serve that sentence alongside Young Thug, who has been sitting in jail for more than two years as the trial drags on.

Thug (Jeffery Williams) and dozens of others were indicted in May 2022 over allegations that his “YSL” group was not really a record label called “Young Stoner Life” but a violent Atlanta gang called “Young Slime Life.” Prosecutors claim the group committed murders, carjackings, armed robberies, drug dealing and other crimes over the course of a decade.

Jury selection kicked off in January 2023, but the trial itself did not begin until November and has since been marked by numerous delays. With dozens of witnesses still set to testify in the prosecution case, the trial is expected to run into 2025.

Following Glanville’s contempt ruling against Steel, his attorneys immediately appealed the decision, arguing that the judge’s actions on Monday had been both procedurally and substantively improper. Among other things, they cited the fact that Glanville himself had issued a ruling on an issue that involved his own potentially unethical actions.

“The court involved itself in these proceedings by conducting the ex parte hearing that violated Mr. Steel’s client’s rights,” Steel’s attorney wrote in their appeal. “This created a conflict of interest for the court because its own ethical conduct was at the heart of Mr. Steel’s request.”

“The court then compounded its abuse of power by presiding over the very contempt hearing where its own rules violations prompted the controversy,” Steel’s attorneys continued. “The court should have recused and allowed the contempt proceedings to be handled by a separate court.”

That appeal, filed with a state appeals court on Tuesday (June 11), was passed along to the Supreme Court, which under Georgia case law is tasked with handling such appeals directly. And on Wednesday, the high court accepted the case and ordered Steel’s sentence put on hold until it issues a final ruling on Judge Glanville’s actions.

Following Monday’s dust-up, the YSL trial has continued with more testimony, with Steel present in the courtroom representing Thug. But on Wednesday, attorneys for another defendant (Deamonte Kendrick) argued that Glanville should recuse himself from the case over the alleged secret meeting with prosecutors and the witness. They argued that the meeting had been intended to “harass and intimidate the sworn witness into testifying.”

When presented with that motion in court, Glanville quickly denied it and continued on with the trial.

By Michael

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