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Young Thug RICO trial halted indefinitely amid Fulton County judge scrutiny

A judge in Fulton County, Georgia, paused a famous rapper’s racketeering trial indefinitely on Monday while three requests for the judge’s recusal from the case are being taken under consideration. Judge Ural Glanville, who sparked controversy with a one-sided, closed-door meeting he had with prosecutors last month, said he would follow court rules and transfer the three requests to another judge, […]

A judge in Fulton County, Georgia, paused a famous rapper’s racketeering trial indefinitely on Monday while three requests for the judge’s recusal from the case are being taken under consideration.

Judge Ural Glanville, who sparked controversy with a one-sided, closed-door meeting he had with prosecutors last month, said he would follow court rules and transfer the three requests to another judge, who will decide Glanville’s fate.

In the meantime, Glanville declared the drawn-out and tumultuous trial of Young Thug, a Grammy Award-winning artist, in recess, further prolonging any conclusion to a yearslong court matter that has eaten up enormous resources in District Attorney Fani Willis’s jurisdiction.


Law & Crime has been streaming the trial online.

Phil Holloway, a conservative Georgia-based attorney, shared a clip on X of the proceedings during which Glanville announced the trial pause. Holloway opined that the judge “realized he’s been checkmated.”

Calls for Glanville’s recusal began last month, when Young Thug’s attorney Brian Steel confronted the judge about the meeting he had with prosecutors and a witness who was set to take the stand and testify against Young Thug. The meeting was considered “ex parte” because it included only one party in the case, and Steel alleged that a mistrial was warranted because such meetings are frowned upon in judicial codes if they involve any sort of substantive matter.

In a stunning reaction, Glanville did not address the meeting but instead demanded to know how Steel found out about it. Steel refused to divulge his source, leading Glanville to order the lawyer’s arrest right in the courtroom for alleged contempt of court.

Attorney Ashleigh Merchant later entered the courtroom and came to Steel’s defense, saying he was denied due process. Merchant was also at the forefront of the effort to oust Willis from her other high-profile racketeering case, which she brought against former President Donald Trump and 18 others over election interference allegations.

A judge granted Steel’s release while his fight against his contempt allegation is pending.

In addition to holding the defendant’s attorney in contempt, Glanville initially denied calls for a mistrial and his recusal, leading to critics raising worries that he was effectively holding the courtroom hostage while Young Thug’s trial progressed.

Glanville has since responded by releasing the transcript of the ex parte meeting he had with prosecutors and the witness, and it painted a picture of the judge being instructive with the witness, Kenneth Copeland, also known as “Lil Woody.”

The timing of a separate judge ruling on whether Glanville should be recused for the ex parte meeting and his subsequent reactions when he was confronted about it remain to be seen.

Young Thug and 27 co-defendants were charged more than two years ago with a slate of felonies, including Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations violations, murder, armed robbery, and illegal possession of firearms.

Young Thug, whose legal name is Jeffery Williams, is facing nine charges, which include the RICO violation, participation in criminal street gang activity, and possession of drugs and weapons. He is alleged to have led the gang Young Slime Life, or YSL. YSL Records is also the name of his record label.

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The trial, which began last November, has dragged out and been plagued with complications since its outset. Its start was preceded by a difficult 10-month jury selection process. Through various requests to sever cases and reach plea deals, the number of co-defendants has been whittled down to six, all of whom have pleaded not guilty.

Copeland, the witness at the center of the latest controversy, was given an immunity deal to testify about a 2015 murder of Donovan Thomas, who was allegedly a member of a gang that is rivals with YSL. Prosecutors allege Young Thug rented a car that was used in the murder.

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