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Meek Mill's Judge Declines Request To Recuse Herself

Meek Mills performs in Atlanta, Ga. in November 2015.
Marcus Ingram
Getty Images
Meek Mills performs in Atlanta, Ga. in November 2015.

Since Meek Mill returned to prisonlast fall over violations of his probation stemming from a 2007 firearm and drug arrest, members of the Philadelphia rapper's legal team have repeatedly impugned the credibility of Meek's presiding judge, Philadelphia JudgeGenece Brinkley. One of Meek's lawyers, Joe Tacopina, has claimed Judge Brinkley is "enamored" with Meek, and has attempted to have her removed from overseeing the case. On March 29, however, Brinkley ruled that she would not be stepping down from the rapper's case, denying a motion for her recusal made on Feb. 14.

Since Meek was sentenced in Nov. 2017, accusations of Judge Brinkley's bias, and news that one of his arresting officers made the Philadelphia District Attorney's list of corrupt police officers, have kept interest in the musician's case piqued.

On March 14, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office told the Associated Press that they were not opposed to releasing the rapper on bail and that there is a strong likelihood of his conviction "being reversed (in whole or in part)." Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf concurred, saying that the "criminal justice system is in need of repair" in a tweet supporting the prosecutors' findings.

"This ruling from Judge Genece Brinkley simply reaffirms the fact she has turned Meek Mill's case into a personal vendetta," Tacopina shared in a statement provided to NPR Music.

Meek's case has become something of a lightning rod for discussion of criminal justice reform, drawing support from inside and outside of the music world. Rev. Al Sharpton has adamantly supported Meek since his return to prison; the Philadelphia Eagles, Meek's hometown football team, chose the rapper's 2012 track "Dreams and Nightmares" as their walk-out music for Super Bowl LII; the Philly rapper's Roc Nation boss, Jay-Z, has repeatedly shown support for Mill, with the mogul's streaming service, Tidal, sponsoring a rally and panel discussion at University of Pennsylvania, while Jay and his wife, Beyoncé, recently shouted out Meek on the new track "Top Off"; and last week, Meek's mother, Kathy Williams, penned a letter addressed to "Lady Justice" in which she pleaded for her son's release.

Meek Mill's post-conviction hearing is scheduled for April 16.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sidney Madden is a reporter and editor for NPR Music. As someone who always gravitated towards the artforms of music, prose and dance to communicate, Madden entered the world of music journalism as a means to authentically marry her passions and platform marginalized voices who do the same.
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