Young Thug’s Co-Defendant Asks Georgia Supreme Court to Force YSL Judge to Step Aside

One of Young Thug’s co-defendants is asking the Georgia Supreme Court to force the judge overseeing the rapper’s high-profile gang trial to recuse himself, arguing that a secret meeting with prosecutors and a witness was a serious violation of judicial ethics.

Judge Ural Glanville himself has already repeatedly refused requests from Thug’s attorney Brian Steel and other defense lawyers that he step aside over allegations about the so-called ex parte meeting – and instead ordered Steel jailed after he refused to divulge how he learned of it.

So on Thursday, lawyers for fellow rapper and co-defendant Yak Gotti (Deamonte Kendrick) filed an emergency petition asking the state’s high court to force Glanville to do so.

“Glanville’s actions offend public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary,” wrote Yak Gotti’s attorney Doug Weinstein. “An appearance of impropriety and bias hangs over the present trial due to Glanville’s failure to follow the law.”

If the petition is granted, it would be the second time Georgia’s Supreme Court has jumped into the YSL trial. Last week, the high court hit pause on Steel’s jail sentence and agreed to review the judge’s decision to hold the lawyer in contempt.

Thug (Jeffery Williams) and dozens of others were indicted in May 2022 over allegations that his “YSL” was not really a record label called “Young Stoner Life” but rather a violent Atlanta gang called “Young Slime Life.” Prosecutors claim the group committed murders, carjackings, armed robberies, drug dealing and other crimes over the course of a decade. After kicking off in January 2023, the trial is already the longest in Georgia state history and is expected to run until early next year.

In an extraordinary courtroom episode last week, Steel revealed that he had learned of an ex parte meeting between Glanville, prosecutors and a witness named Kenneth Copeland. Steel argued that such a meeting, without defense counsel present, was clear grounds for a mistrial. He claimed Glanville had helped prosecutors coerce the uncooperative Copeland into testifying with threats of extended jail time.

Copeland is a central witness for the entire racketeering case against Thug and the other alleged YSL members, but he’s particularly important for the case against Yak Gotti. His testimony pertains to the 2015 murder of Donovan “Nut” Thomas Jr., which Gotti and fellow defendant Shannon Stillwell are directly charged with committing.

Rather than address Steel’s complaints, Glanville instead demanded to know how he had learned of the meeting, suggesting that it had been the result of an illegal leak. The judge eventually held Steel in contempt of court when the lawyer refused to name names, sentencing him to serve 20 days in county jail as punishment.

Earlier this week, Steel and other defense attorneys later demanded that the judge step aside from the case over the incident. In his motion, Thug’s attorney argued that Glanville had “forfeited [his] role as an impartial judge and has become a member of the prosecution team.” But the judge quickly denied the request, saying it was based on “bare assertions and legal conclusions.”

In his petition to the Supreme Court, Yak Gotti’s attorney Weinstein echoed Steel’s arguments. He said the allegations against the judge “casts a pall” over the ongoing case and represents “obstruction of defendant’s right to a fair and impartial trial.”

“Defense counsel should have been afforded an opportunity to attend any hearing where a sworn witness in a critical stage of the trial is being coerced to testify,” Weinstein wrote. “The only logical conclusion for the secret nature of the proceeding was to give Glanville in conjunction with the State the unfettered ability to harass and intimidate the sworn witness into testifying.”