Imprisoned hip-hop star Meek Mill has renewed his call for Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Genece Brinkley to recuse from his criminal case, citing the judge’s recent decision to hire an attorney to help her respond to mounting criticism over her handling of his case.
Mill, whose real name is Robert Williams, filed a supplemental motion for recusal Monday in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Among other things, the eight-page motion references Brinkley’s decision to hire Philadelphia attorney A. Charles Peruto Jr. and contends that Brinkley may have improperly made public a key transcript in the case that had been under seal since February 2016.
The motion cited media reports, including articles from The Legal, The Philadelphia Inquirer and TMZ, and claims Peruto indicated in interviews that Brinkley had showed him the transcript before it was unsealed and that he had advised Brinkley to release the transcript.
“If so, then the ultimate decision to release the transcript was made (improperly) in an effort by the judge to ‘clear her name,’ rather than (as it should have been two years ago) in furtherance of Mr. Williams’ constitutional right to receive the transcript in aid of his appeal,” the motion filed by Brian McMonagle of McMonagle, Perri, McHugh & Mischak said.
In an emailed statement Peruto said he could not speak for the judge on the motion, but was dismissive of the motion.
“Mill’s team can constantly make allegations in the press, about a judge, but God forbid she fight back to prevent her reputation from being ruined. Another example of limitless funds spent to get their way,” Peruto said. “It doesn’t go unnoticed they fail to mention their own efforts at contacting the judge, ex parte, in an effort to influence her decision.”
The controversy between Williams and Brinkley has been building since she sentenced the hip-hop star in November to a two- to four-year prison sentence for a probation violation—a sentence that staggered the rapper’s supporters. Williams had been on probation for nine years at that point, and the violation for which he received the prison sentence stemmed from two out-of-state incidents that resulted in charges being brought, but later dropped.
Brinkley hired Peruto shortly before she ordered the February 2016 transcript to be unsealed.
Peruto is a Center City Philadelphia lawyer best known as a criminal defense attorney. He recently told The Legal that his representation of Brinkley will take more of an offensive posture, and could take the form of defamation lawsuits filed against the attorneys and entertainment company that he said are behind a campaign to smear Brinkley’s credibility.
Williams’ legal team has pointed to the February 2016 transcript as evidence that Brinkley had attempted to pressure Williams into dropping his New York-based management team and hiring Philadelphia-based manager Charlie Mack.
The transcript, however, showed that it was Williams’ probation officer, not Brinkley, who suggested that Williams should hire Mack. Although the transcript of the Feb. 5, 2016, hearing showed that Mack was the focus of much of the in-chambers discussion, several media outlets said the transcript was a setback for Williams’ defense team.
Williams’ latest motion, however, contended that the transcript still indicated that Brinkley should step away from the case.
“During this length[y] and repeated commentary by her probation officer and the assistant district attorney, Judge Brinkley remained largely silent and never interjected either an expression of disagreement or any suggestion that their comments were inappropriate or inaccurate, or did not reflect her ‘mission,’” the motion said.
The motion also cited the unsealed transcript as indicating that Brinkley “personally selected” the probation officer to handle Williams’ case.
Joe Tacopina of Tacopina & Seigel, who is one of Williams’ lead attorneys, declined to comment.