Prosecutors in the upcoming Young Thug trial in the US state of Georgia have identified 737 possible witnesses, including 479 expert witnesses. Though presumably only a small selection of those people will actually testify in court, given one lawyer has noted that if the jury were to hear from that many people the trial would take two years to complete.
Atlanta broadcaster 11 Alive notes that "the witness list number brings into clearer focus the wide-ranging scope of a trial that will question whether Young Thug is, as prosecutors have alleged, the kingpin ... of a YSL street gang or if, as his defence attorneys have argued, YSL is simply a record label and lifestyle brand miscast by overly aggressive prosecutors".
The rapper, real name Jeffery Williams, was charged last year with numerous counts of racketeering. It's alleged that the YSL gang that he co-founded went on to commit murders, shootings and carjackings, which he then bragged about in his tracks and music videos. The case against Williams and five others will get to court at the end of this month.
Although the vast list of witnesses presented by the prosecution in the case might suggest that case is strong, one lawyer who spoke to Rolling Stone argues it demonstrates the opposite. “If you need 737 witnesses to prove your case you shouldn’t be bringing it”, Bradford Cohen tells the music magazine.
“That is certainly not a normal amount of witnesses", he confirms. “At a trial, if that was the true amount of witnesses, this case would take two years to try. Courts have become complacent with prosecutorial misconduct and the issues that plague discovery. This is one example of the state purposefully listing witnesses they have no intent to call to keep the defence busy and not concentrating on the issues at hand".
In addition to all those witnesses, the prosecution also plans to present Williams’ lyrics as evidence in court. Doing so is controversial, with critics arguing that jurors are prone to assume rap lyrics are rooted in reality when they could, of course, be describing entirely fictitious events. Nevertheless, the judge overseeing this case confirmed last week that he will allow Williams' lyrics to be used in court.