Meek Mill’s hopes for a new trial now in the hands of Superior Court judges

Rapper Robert Rihmeek Williams “Meek Mill” with his son, Rihmeek Williams. Mill appeared in Superior Court Tuesday. His lawyers are arguing for a retrial. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Rapper Robert Rihmeek Williams “Meek Mill” with his son, Rihmeek Williams. Mill appeared in Superior Court Tuesday. His lawyers are arguing for a retrial. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Philadelphia-born rapper Meek Mill may be one step closer to getting a new trial in front of a new judge.

On Tuesday, Mill’s lawyers told a panel of Superior Court judges their client deserves another proceeding because the narcotics cop who arrested him in 2007 has documented credibility issues, including that he’s on an internal list of officers the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office said were too unreliable to put on the witness stand.

“Certainly, the outcome at a new trial could and would be different,” said defense attorney Kim Watterson.

Mill’s lawyers also argued that Genece Brinkley, the controversial city judge who has presided over the 32 year-old’s case for more than a decade, should not oversee a new trial because her “highly unusual” and “improper” behavior has tainted her impartiality.

Rapper Robert Rihmeek Williams “Meek Mill” appeared in Superior Court Tuesday. Mill’s lawyers are arguing for a retrial. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Lawyers with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, seated at the next table over, did not disagree. Paul George, an assistant supervisor in the DA’s Law Division, reiterated that his office supports Mill’s request, in large part because it has granted new trials to other defendants whose cases involved former police Officer Reginald Graham.

“It’s just consistent with what were doing with every other case with this situation,” said George.

CNN contributor Van Jones, acting as Mill’s spokesman, said after the hearing that seeing a district attorney’s office siding with defense attorneys was an “extraordinary moment.”

“I have been in criminal justice for 25 years. I’ve never seen a district attorney’s office calling for a new trial at the same time the defendant is calling for a new trial,” said Jones.

Van Jones, CEO of Reform, spoke to reporters on behalf of Meek Mill and his lawyers after a court appearance Tuesday. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

A decision is expected in the coming weeks. A new trial could mean the case disappears because Graham, the district attorney’s only witness at his first trial, will not be called to testify.

Mill, whose legal name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, did not address reporters before or after Tuesday’s hearing.

Mill’s case reached the Superior Court after Brinkely denied his request for a new trial following an evidentiary hearing in 2017.

“The Commonwealth’s agreement to a new trial is merely a recommendation to this Court,” wrote Brinkley in her opinion. She also said the evidence presented during the hearing about Graham’s credibility “would not have changed the outcome at trial.”

A. Charles Peruto Jr., who represents Brinkely, said Mill is seeking “special treatment” and that his petition should be denied. The law, Peruto said, does not support his request for a new trial because the facts of the rapper’s case have effectively remained unchanged.

“This is just reaching,” said Peruto.

In response to questions about his client’s behavior while presiding over Mill’s case, Peruto said Brinkley has never acted out of turn.

“The allegations are ridiculous,”he said.

Rapper Robert Rihmeek Williams “Meek Mill” appeared in Superior Court Tuesday. Mill’s lawyers are arguing for a retrial. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

In 2009, Brinkley sentenced Mill to 11 to 23 months in county prison on gun and drug charges. He was released after five months and placed on probation for five years.

In 2016, Brinkley extended Mill’s probation for violating the terms of his supervision. The year before, he was arrested for suspected marijuana use.

In 2017, Brinkley sentenced him to two to four years in prison, in part because he was arrested for being involved in a fight a St. Louis airport and popping wheelies on his dirt bike in New York. Charges in both incidents were dropped, but they played a role in Brinkley sending him back to prison.

The ruling outraged Mill’s supporters and criminal justice advocates, who have long argued that Brinkley has abused her power.

Mill served a few months of Brinkley’s sentence before he was released on bail in late April thanks to a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling.

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