Meek Mill to get new trial and judge
Meek Mill can let out a long-awaited “Amen” after a Pennsylvania appeals court overturned his 2008 conviction on gun and drug charges Wednesday, ordering a new trial and judge in the case.
The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that a trial judge erred in not granting the Philadelphia rapper a new trial “based on after-discovered evidence,” in accordance with the state’s Post-Conviction Relief Act, it said in its ruling.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office said in a statement it is pleased that the appeals court “validated our position that Robert Rihmeek Williams deserves a new trial before a court that has no appearance of partiality.”
District Attorney Larry Krasner is reviewing the court’s opinion and weighing his options, his office said, declining to comment further.
In 2008, Meek was convicted after carrying a gun while walking to a store. He was sentenced to several months in prison and released early on five years’ parole.
Following an incident in which he was accused of assault, a court in 2017 handed down a 2- to 4-year sentence for violating parole on the 2008 conviction. He served five months of that sentence.
His legal team has argued there were credibility issues with a police officer who testified in the 2008 case. Reginald Graham was on the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office’s “secret list” of police officers with reputations for being untrustworthy, his lawyers have said.
The appeals court Wednesday noted that Graham’s fellow officers had accused him of dishonest behavior — in Meek’s case as well as in others’ — and that Graham had resigned from the force after the Philadelphia Police Department Board of Inquiry recommended his dismissal for theft and lying.
Despite Meek’s pleas, which helped propel him to the head of a national conversation on justice reform, Judge Genece Brinkley of the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas turned down a petition for a new trial last year — against Krasner’s recommendation.
But Superior Court Judge Jack Panella wrote in Wednesday’s ruling that the “after-discovered evidence” in Meek’s case — which includes statements from Philadelphia police officers who contradicted Graham’s testimony — “is of such a strong nature and character that a different verdict will likely result at a retrial.”
Panella continued, “Williams’ right to be tried before an impartial judge is necessary in this case because the trial judge heard highly prejudicial testimony at the first trial, which was a bench trial, and made credibility determinations in favor of a now discredited witness and against Williams.”
The court also vacated two other sentences handed down for parole violations stemming from the 2008 case.
The “Going Bad” rapper thanked the court for the ruling shortly after it was handed down.
“I’d like to thank the Pennsylvania Superior Court for overturning my conviction and granting me a new trial. The past 11 years have been mentally and emotionally challenging, but I’m glad that justice prevailed and my clean record has been restored,” Meek is quoted as saying in a Roc Nation tweet.
Roc Nation is an entertainment company founded by Jay-Z, with whom Meek has collaborated on numerous ventures of late, both commercial and philanthropic.
Not only was Jay-Z integral in the #FreeMeekMill movement, but after the 32-year-old’s release from prison last year, the pair joined forces on the REFORM Alliance, an organization aiming to reduce the number of people serving unjust parole and probation sentences.
The two also announced Wednesday that Meek’s Dream Chasers Records label will fall under the Roc Nation umbrella.
CNN’s Aaron Cooper, Chloe Melas and Chuck Johnston contributed to this report.