Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Genece E. Brinkley, who has overseen the criminal case of Philadelphia-born rapper Meek Mill for a decade and who made international headlines last year when she sent him to prison, will remain on the case during his appeals, another Philadelphia judge ruled Wednesday morning.
Saying he lacked the jurisdiction to remove from the case a fellow judge who sits on the same bench, Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker denied the request from the rapper’s lawyers to have Brinkley ousted.
“We have a judge that wears the same robe that I wear, that has not recused herself and has not disqualified herself,” Tucker said in rejecting the lawyers’ arguments that Brinkley should be removed. “I don’t have the jurisdiction to do that. It’s as simple as that.”
Attorneys for the rapper, born Robert Williams, forcefully argued during the hearing that Brinkley should be replaced because she has been unfair to their client by refusing to grant him a new trial even though the District Attorney’s Office has said it does not oppose a new trial. The lawyers also said Brinkley should be removed because she stated in a lawsuit filed this month that she has suffered head and eye trauma as a result of a car crash.
The defense attorneys, led by Brian McMonagle, also noted that Brinkley had claimed in an earlier lawsuit to have suffered trauma after finding a hotel employee’s name tag in her hotel room.
“If we are to take her at her word, she has disqualified herself from this case,” said McMonagle, who asked Tucker to reassign the case to Common Pleas Court President Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper.
Tucker, who sits as the supervising judge of the court’s criminal division, responded that Brinkley can only be disqualified by the state Supreme Court. “The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has refused to remove her from the case,” he said. “For whatever reason, you are asking me to do what the Supreme Court has not done.”
The rapper was convicted on gun and drug charges in 2008, and has been on probation for much of the time since. Last fall, Brinkley sentenced him to a minimum of two years in state prison, citing probation violations. The state Supreme Court ordered him released on bail in April.
A hearing before Brinkley is scheduled for June 18, but Mill’s lawyers said they would file an emergency motion with the state’s high court Wednesday.
Should the June 18 hearing take place, the testimony of former Philadelphia Police Officer Reginald Graham, who arrested Mill, is likely to be a focus of attention. Graham, the only witness to testify at the nonjury trial, claimed that the rapper had pointed a gun at him. But recently, two other officers have come forward to say that Graham lied.
Graham — who retired from the force last year and has never been charged with a crime — was identified in February by the Inquirer and Daily News as one of two dozen officers on a secret list compiled by the District Attorney’s Office of cops they would not call to testify. He was accused of stealing drug bust money and lying to the FBI about it and failing an FBI polygraph test.
By: Mensah M. Dean