Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner waded into rapper Meek Mill’s legal quagmire on Wednesday, filing an appeal with the Pennsylvania Superior Court that asked for a new trial with a new judge.
Previously, Krasner said he supported a new trial for the rapper, whose legal name is Robert Mihmeek Williams, but had not pursued any legal action to that effect.
That all changed Wednesday with the appeal, which outlines why Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Genece Brinkley should recuse herself from the case.
In the document, Krasner highlights the “public perception of unfairness and bias” throughout Williams’ highly public trial, and instances where Brinkley overstepped her duties as a judge. This included checking up on Williams while he was performing community service at a homeless shelter.
“Williams should be awarded a post-conviction relief in the form of a new trial,” the appeal said. “In the alternative, his recusal motion should be granted and this matter should be remanded for a violation of probation hearing before a new judge.”
Williams’ team called Wednesday’s appeal a “huge legal victory.”
“We are very pleased that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has confirmed to the Superior Court that Meek is entitled to have his conviction vacated,” Williams’ attorney, Jordon Siev, said in a statement. “The brief is also significant in that it marks the first time the DA has publicly outlined in writing that it supports Judge Brinkley’s recusal based on her ‘appearance of partiality’ and ‘public perception of unfairness and bias.’”
Brinkley has repeatedly denied post-conviction relief for the rapper and previous demands from his legal team to recuse herself from the case.
Last year, Brinkley issued a 47-page decision denying his request. Brinkley’s 2018 ruling came a week after a two-hour evidentiary hearing during which the rapper’s lawyers asked Brinkley to reconsider the initial conviction. The judge showed skepticism over the PCRA request during the hearing.
Brinkley appeared disinclined to use the credibility of former Philadelphia police officer Reginald Graham, who is among a group of officers on an internal “Do Not Call” to testify list kept by the district attorney’s office, as a stand-alone reason to have Mill’s conviction overturned.
“We already know this is going to another court,” Brinkley said at the time.
Mill’s legal team argued that the PCRA process has not been questioned in such a way since the proceedings started in 1995. In that time, more than 1,000 cases have been thrown out. Mill’s case appears to be an anomaly, the defense said.
Mill was originally sentenced to 11 to 23 months following his conviction on the 2007 gun and drug offenses. Last year, Brinkley found him in violation of his 10-year probation and immediately sentenced him to 2 to 4 years in prison. He served five months before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered him freed while his appeal of Brinkley’s sentence was pending.
For a complete timeline of the decade-plus court drama in and out of the courtroom involving Mill and Brinkley, click here.