meek-mill-reform
Credit: James Meadows

A request filed by rapper Meek Mill's legal team to remove Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Genece E. Brinkley from his role overseeing the criminal case against Mill was denied by another Philadelphia judge on Wednesday morning. Conquequently, Brinkley, who sent Mill to prison last year and who repeatedly denied Mill the opportunity to be released from prison on bail, will remain on the case, according to Philly.com.

Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker denied the request despite allegations made by Mill's lawyers that Brinkley has treated Mill unfairly, especially when refusing to grant him a new trial despite support for one from the District Attorney’s Office and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. In addition to citing her alleged unfairness, Mill's legal team also claimed that Brinkley was unable to judge properly after suffering alleged mental defects caused by a car accident.

Tucker rejected the request for switching judges, claiming that he simply does not have the jurisdiction to dismiss a case from a judge who sits on the same bench as he does. Tucker added in court that only the Pennsylvania Supreme Court can oust Brinkley from the case.

“We have a judge that wears the same robe that I wear, that has not recused herself and has not disqualified herself,” Tucker said. “I don’t have the jurisdiction to do that. It’s as simple as that.”

Philly.com reported that Brian McMonagle, Mill's lead defense attorney, cited that in almost 2,000 similar cases in which the defense sought new trials and received similar support from the District Attorney’s Office, the requests were granted.

Mill was initially convicted in 2008 on drug and gun charges, serving an eight month sentence followed by a five-year parole sentence that was extended due to claimed violations of the parole.

Most recently, in November 2017, Mill was sentenced to two to four years in prison for parole violations by Brinkley, who repeatedly upheld his ruling and denied Mill bail. In late April, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court finally granted Mill “extraordinary relief."

Since his initial conviction, Mill's case has garnered national attention, inspiring the #FreeMeekMill movement which not only seeks Mill's release from prison but also advocates for reforming the criminal justice system. In March, thousands gathered at a #FreeMeekMill event held at Penn's Irvine Auditorium to hear a discussion on mass incarceration and to unite in support of Mill's release from prison. 

McMonagle and co-counsel Joe Tacopina told Philly.com reporters that the court's denial of Mill's request is yet another example of the unfair treatment of Mill's case.

“That speaks volumes of her intentions, of her fundamental fairness,” Tacopina said. “We are going to seek immediate emergency relief before the Supreme Court for these reasons.”

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