The rapper Meek Mill may finally get out of the legal quagmire that has snagged him for over a decade.
This Wednesday, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania granted Meek Mill a new trial and a new judge following a 2008 conviction.
That conviction stemmed from a 2007 arrest in which an officer claimed Meek Mill pointed a gun at him. The case involved drug and gun charges. It went to a bench trial – trial by judge and not a jury – and resulted in a guilty verdict. The only witness against Mill was the arresting officer.
History of the Case
After conviction, Mill served jail time, was released, and put on a probation period that extended over ten years. While on probation, Mill was found responsible for a series of technical probation violations. The judge put him back in prison for a period of two to four years.
However, evidence then arose that the arresting officer lied during Mill’s trial. The Philadelphia District Attorney made a list of officer’s engaged in patterns of bias, perjury, and brutality in order to prevent these officers from testifying. The officer in Mill’s case was on the list.
Mill was granted release from prison in April 2018 by the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
Mill appealed based his conviction based on the new evidence of the officer’s behavior. There are now serious questions raised about the officer’s credibility, including the officer being accused by another officer of lying about Mill pointing the gun at him during Mill’s arrest
The Court in an opinion said, “we conclude the after-discovered evidence is of such a strong nature and character that a different verdict will likely result at a retrial.” Read the full opinion here.
Mill To Get New Judge
In a rare move, the Pennsylvania appeals court also pulled Mill’s judge off the case. The Court said, “Williams’ (Meek Mill’s) 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 judge’s impartiality in the case came into question after she was found to have made a secret visit to the place where Mill was performing community service.
Mill was on a long and restrictive probation, in which he complained that he was forced to report for every little thing he wanted to do.
Mill is now entitled to a new trial. The prosecution has supported the appeal and overturning the conviction, acknowledging the officer’s corruption. It seems likely, then, that the prosecution will not pursue the case based on the revelations about the officer’s credibility.
The legal quagmire of the probation, arrest, and jail cycle Mill was subjected to was a disgrace of the legal system. It was all the more disgraceful because the evidence at Mill’s trial ten years ago was from a corrupt police officer. Mill had become an advocate against this unfair system.
Sam Bernstein is a Criminal Defense Attorney in Ann Arbor.
ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108.
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