Rapper Meek Mill scores legal win as Philadelphia district attorney calls for a new judge and new trial

The Philadelphia DA alleged that the court “abused its discretion."

May 22, 2019, 7:45 PM

Rapper Meek Mill scored a big legal win on Wednesday after the Philadelphia district attorney filed documents with the Pennsylvania Superior Court calling for a new judge and a new trial for his case.

"Doesn’t mean I win ... but that is great news!!!!" the rapper tweeted, following the news.

In documents obtained by ABC News, District Attorney Larry Krasner accused Judge Genece Brinkley of actions that created "the appearance of partiality” in Mill's case, and alleged that her court “abused its discretion” in sentencing Mill in November 2017.

“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," Mill’s attorney, Jordan Siev, told ABC News. "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.’"

ABC News reached out to Brinkley's office, but a request for comment was not immediately returned.

Mill, whose given name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, was sentenced by Brinkley to two to four years in prison in November 2017 after a pair of arrests violated his probation from a 2008 gun and drug case. Neither arrest resulted in a conviction.

The hefty sentence for technical violations sparked outrage among criminal justice reform advocates and reinvigorated a national debate on mass incarceration. Amid a viral #FreeMeekMill movement on social media and elsewhere, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered Mill's immediate release on "unsecured bail" in April 2018, citing "credibility issues with a police officer who was a 'critical witness'" in the case.

PHOTO: Protesters uses their phones and listen to a speaker in front of a courthouse during a hearing for rapper Meek Mill, April 16, 2018 in Philadelphia.
Protesters uses their phones and listen to a speaker in front of a courthouse during a hearing for rapper Meek Mill, April 16, 2018 in Philadelphia.
Jacqueline Larma/AP

Brinkley has overseen the rapper's case for years, and has been at the center of the controversy.

Among other things, the document filed by the DA on Wednesday references an incident in which Brinkley took it upon herself to personally "check up" on Mill by making a "surprise visit" to a homeless shelter in 2017 where he was performing court-ordered community service. Brinkley "personally assumed the role of investigator," the document states, but "no evidence suggests" that the judge regularly made this type of unannounced personal visit to monitor her other probationers.

While at the shelter, the filing states that Brinkley saw Mill "bagging clothes" rather than serving food, and considered this a violation but did not notify his team. When the rapper attempted to explain himself at a hearing, the judge countered "with her own observations," according to the DA’s filing, which alleges that Brinkley “inappropriately” played "the role of both decision maker and fact witness."

PHOTO: Meek Mill performs onstage at the 2018 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 24, 2018 in Los Angeles.
Meek Mill performs onstage at the 2018 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 24, 2018 in Los Angeles.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for BET

Krasner, a progressive Democrat and civil rights attorney, vowed to bring a "movement" of criminal justice reform to Philadelphia as district attorney.

After Mill's release from prison in April 2018, his request for a new trial was denied in June. However, with support from the district attorney's office, the could change.

Over the past year, the rapper has become one of the most visible and active proponents for criminal justice reform in the music industry.

Mill has also pledged to spotlight the stories of others who he says are the victims of a flawed criminal justice system. The rapper joined forces with leaders in music, sports and business , including hip-hop mogul Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, to launch the REFORM Alliance in January -- a criminal justice organization chaired by himself and businessman Michael Rubin, a minority owner of the Philadelphia 76ers'.

"This is my situation being on probation for 11 years and going back to prison three to four times without committing crimes for eleven years," the rapper told “Good Morning America” co-host Michael Strahan in January. "This last time a lot of people stood up for me and came out and spoke out for me, so I thought when I got out of my situation, I'd use my platform to help some people...who don't really have a voice."

Asked by ABC News in September of 2018 if he would consider appealing to President Donald Trump to bring attention to criminal justice reform, Mill said, "I’m always open to talking to the president to make change. Everybody I was in prison with always encouraged me to go, take the sacrifice, even if you get crucified in the media -- go, try to make change."

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