On Friday, June 21, 2024, Atlanta News First reported that the attorneys for rapper Yak Gotti, one of the defendants in the ongoing Young Thug racketeering trial, had filed a motion calling for the proceedings to be halted until the Georgia Supreme Court rules on their request for the presiding judge to recuse himself.

Yak Gotti, whose real name is Deamonte Kendrick, is facing 12 criminal charges including murder, racketeering, and participation in a criminal street gang in connection with his involvement in Young Thug’s record label Young Slime Life, or YSL. His lawyers, led by attorney Doug Weinstein, argue in their motion that the judge overseeing the trial, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville, engaged in misconduct during a private meeting related to the testimony of key witness Kenneth Copeland.

Specifically, the defense claims Judge Glanville held an improper ex parte discussion with prosecutors and Copeland without the presence or knowledge of the defense attorneys, violating their clients’ right to a fair trial. An ex parte communication refers to an interaction between a judge and one party in a case without the other parties being present or made aware.

Last Monday, Young Thug’s lawyer Brian Steel had filed a motion seeking Judge Glanville’s removal from the case and a mistrial based on the alleged ex parte meeting. However, Judge Glanville denied those requests. The new motion by Yak Gotti’s defense argues the judge’s denial and refusal to recuse himself has created an “appearance of impropriety and bias” that threatens the integrity and impartiality of the proceedings.

The defense attorneys are now requesting the Georgia Supreme Court order Judge Glanville to follow the law by either recusing himself or releasing an unredacted transcript of the private meeting in question to ensure transparency. They maintain their client and the other defendants simply desire a fair trial, as any defendant is legally entitled to receive.

The trial began on June 7th but has seen disruptions following Copeland’s refusal to testify and jailing for contempt before he ultimately agreed. Copeland is said to have provided key evidence to prosecutors linking Young Thug, Yak Gotti, and other alleged YSL gang members to serious criminal charges. However, concerns over the judge’s conduct during a closed-door meeting with Copeland and lawyers have now halted the trial until the high court rules.

Prosecutors have sought to prove YSL qualifies as a criminal street gang under the RICO Act. But the defense argues YSL stands for Young Stoner Life and was merely a record label name, not a criminal organization. Young Thug himself faces eight RICO counts and additional gun and drug charges related to his alleged leadership of the gang.

A decision by the Georgia Supreme Court on the recusal motion could have major ramifications for the high-profile case, which attracted nationwide attention upon the arrests of Young Thug and 27 others in a sweeping May indictment. For now, the trial will remain in limbo as the judges above decide whether Yak Gotti and his co-defendants should have their case heard by a different judge to ensure a proceeding free of any perception of unfairness.



Source: Atlanta News First