Jul 3, 2024 2 min read

Young Thug trial derailed as judge’s controversial private meeting causes indefinite delay

Rapper Young Thug’s trial faces uncertainty as defence lawyers continue to call for the judge to be removed from the case over a private meeting with prosecutors and a key witness. The trial has been paused to allow another judge to consider those demands

Young Thug trial derailed as judge’s controversial private meeting causes indefinite delay
Photo provided by 300 Entertainment, credited to @mario_sorrenti

The long drawn out criminal trial involving rapper Young Thug has been indefinitely suspended due to an ongoing dispute over a private meeting between judge Ural Glanville, representatives of the prosecution and a key witness. 

Defence lawyers argue that this meeting was improper and potentially unconstitutional, and are demanding that Glanville must recuse himself from the case, to allow a new judge to take over.

Young Thug, real name Jeffery Williams, is accused of co-founding a gang that went on to commit murders, shootings and carjackings, which he then bragged about in his tracks and music videos. 

He was charged in the US state of Georgia in May 2022 with numerous counts of racketeering. A total of 28 people were charged at that time in relation to the gang allegations, with the case against Williams and five others finally getting to trial last November

The case against has been particularly noteworthy within the music industry because of the use of Williams’ lyrics and creative output as evidence by the prosecution. 

This practice has been widely criticised by the music community, including Williams’ label partners Atlantic Records and 300 Entertainment, who argue that an artist’s creative output should never be used as evidence against them in court. 

Many people see the use of lyrics in this manner as an attack on free speech, and something that disproportionately affects rap artists, because people are prone to incorrectly assume that rap lyrics are more rooted in reality. 

In court earlier this week, judge Glanville announced that he would release a transcript of the contested meeting and allow an outside judge to decide how the trial should now proceed. 

Glanville maintained the meeting’s legitimacy, and said that the only thing discussed during the private session was the immunity agreement of the witness, Kenneth Copeland, to ensure that he fully understood what had been agreed. “Everyone will have a chance to look at it”, Glanville said of the transcript. 

How quickly the trial will now proceed remains uncertain. Asked how long it would take for another judge to review the transcript and make a decision about next steps, Glanville said, simply, “I don’t know - I don’t have anything to do with that”, but added, “Hopefully it will get done fairly quickly”. 

This latest delay adds to a series of setbacks for the trial. Previous interruptions include the stabbing of a co-defendant during a fight with another inmate at Fulton County Jail. 

Then, last month, the dispute over the meeting with Copeland began. After Williams’ defence lawyer Brian Steel first complained about the meeting, Glanville demanded to know how the attorney knew that it had happened. 

Steel refused to reveal his source, leading to the judge finding the lawyer in criminal contempt of court. Glanville then ordered Steel to spend the next ten weekends in jail over the contempt ruling - a sentence which is currently on hold, pending appeal.

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