The attorneys representing embattled hip hop star Meek Mill have said in court filings that there was a federal investigation into the conduct of Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Genece Brinkley, who last sentenced the rapper to prison time for violating his probation.
In a supplemental motion filed Monday seeking to have Brinkley recuse from the case, attorneys for Meek Mill, whose real name is Robert Williams, said the FBI has investigated the judge in connection with her conduct in Williams’ case, and that defense counsel had been aware of the probe since 2016. The filing also said that now that Brinkley is aware of the investigation she needs to recuse from Williams’ case.
“The existence of a federal investigation involving Judge Brinkley’s conduct regarding Mr. Williams, combined with Judge Brinkley’s awareness of that investigation raises further doubts as to her ability to preside impartially, and thus is an additional factor supporting recusal,” the motion, filed by Brian McMonagle of McMonagle, Perri, McHugh & Mischak, said.
Williams’ case sparked a storm of media attention after Brinkley sentenced him to up to four years in prison, despite the fact that neither the prosecutors nor probation officer involved were seeking any jail time. After Brinkley handed down the sentence, one of Williams’ attorneys told several media outlets that the FBI was looking into the judge’s conduct in connection with Williams’ case, but Monday’s filing marks the first court document referencing the alleged investigation.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation said she could neither confirm nor deny that any investigation is underway.
McMonagle did not return a call for comment, and a spokesman for Philadelphia’s First Judicial District declined to comment.
Williams, who has been on probation since 2008, was arrested twice this year, and Brinkley said she imposed the sentence because he had repeatedly flaunted the court.
Although the sentence came as a surprise since neither the prosecutor, nor Williams’ probation officer, had asked for prison time, the bigger surprise came the next day, when New York attorney Joe Tacopina, one of the rapper’s lawyers, made statements to the press that Brinkley had imposed the harsh sentence because she was “enamored” with Williams and had acted inappropriately in handling the case.
The most eye-catching allegations that Tacopina made were that Brinkley told Williams he should switch managers, from the New York-based Roc Nation back to his previous manager, Philadelphia-based Charlie Mack. Tacopina also said Brinkley had asked Williams to record a version of the Boyz II Men song “On Bended Knee” that included a specific reference to her in the song.
Those allegations were made a part of the official record Nov. 14 when McMonagle, who previously represented Bill Cosby, filed a motion asking Brinkley to recuse.
Numerous Philadelphia-based attorneys who spoke with The Legal in the wake of the sentencing, however, said they were skeptical that the FBI would be interested in Brinkley. Lawyers also took issue with the tactic of an attorney broadcasting dissatisfaction with a judge in the national spotlight.
The supplemental recusal motion mentioning the FBI’s alleged investigation came a few days after Brinkley denied Williams’ request for bail.