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Rapper Meek Mill must wait on request for new trial

Rapper Meek Mill suffered a slight setback in court on Monday.

Mill and his lawyers are asking for a new trial on a 2008 conviction on drug and gun charges.

But after a contentious hearing, Mill’s lawyers Joe Tacopina and Brian McMonagle announced to scores of supporters, who waited more than two hours in humid heat for the outcome, that Judge Genece Brinkley needed more time before making a decision.

“Justice wasn’t done today, but we didn’t expect justice from Judge Brinkley,” said Tacopina. “And at the end of the day, Meek is going to be relieved of this burden. This case will be dismissed, will be overturned, and he’ll be free.”

The reason Mill wants a new trial is because the credibility of the arresting officer is now in doubt. This is something both prosecutors and Mill’s lawyers now agree on.

Earlier this year, it was found that Mill’s arresting officer, Reginald Graham, whose testimony is the basis for his conviction, was found on a list of over 20 cops with questionable work histories. This list was drawn up under by Philadelphia prosecutors, but revealed by the city’s newest District Attorney Larry Krasner.

The list shows accusations against Graham included stealing drug money and lying about it to the FBI.

Outside the Philadelphia courthouse, the 31-year-old rapper had little to say except that he didn’t have high expectations from this judge. But he expressed his gratitude to the 150 or so people in attendance.

“I just got up here to thank y’all for coming out to support me and support the other men and brothers that’s caught up in the system the same way,” he said.

Mill served two years in jail on the gun and drug charges, but after violating his probation, he was sentenced to prison for an additional 2 to 4 years. That sentence was seen by his supporters as overly harsh.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed and ordered him to be released on bail in April.

Mill has used his celebrity to bring attention to problems related to Philadelphia’s parole and probation system, which can keep people not yet convicted incarcerated.

A study from Columbia University’s Justice Lab found that Pennsylvania has the third highest percentage of its citizens on parole or probation. Only Georgia and Idaho are higher.

Mill’s fame may have brought some attention to the issue of probation and parole, but Peter Goldberger, another lawyer on the defense team, said his celebrity is doing him no favors in this case.

Mill’s lawyers kept repeating that the case is one of about 1,500 others judges approved new trials for or tossed out the charges because of police malfeasance.

“We don’t want him to be treated better,” said Peter Goldberger, one of Mill’s defense lawyers. “But we do want him to be treated the same as 1,500 other people whose similar cases have been granted.”

Of the many Mill supporters on hand was 20-year-old Khalil Smith, from the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia. He said he hopes to see the rapper exonerated and back in the studio.

“I just want the man free … to just go home and see his kids,” Smith said. “And start making music again for the young folks of today.”

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