Here’s a Timeline of Meek Mill’s Legal Troubles
Hip-hop and the justice system have a checkered relationship with each other that dates back to the culture's humble beginnings. A multitude of rappers (famous and otherwise) have found themselves intertwined with the long arm of the law, resulting in careers being squandered and people's livelihood and freedom stripped away. While a number of these instances may have been justified, many sentences have been scrutinized as being unfair and malicious, as is the case with Meek Mill's current battle with the legal system.
The Philadelphia native, who burst onto the national rap scene after signing to Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group in 2011, has enjoyed a successful career as one of the more bankable street rappers in hip-hop today, but has spent much of his time in the limelight frequenting courtrooms as a result of a criminal case from 2008. At the time, the then 18-year-old was convicted of drug and gun possession.
Meek, who would serve eight months in prison before being released on parole under an agreement that he would serve five years on probation, has seen his career come to multiple halts as a result of violating parole for activities that many would deem as miniscule. Having served two prison sentences and been subjected to house arrest from the time he inked his record deal, Meek Mill is no stranger to the legal system and has spoken out about his injustice on various platforms, including social media, interviews and in his music.
The hip-hop community was outraged after Meek Mill was sentenced to two to four years in state prison in November 2017 for yet another violation of probation, a sentence that could severely impact the rapper's future and possibly derail his career. Since the MC's sentence, the hip-hop community and celebrities across entertainment have come forward to speak on the rapper's behalf, including JAY-Z and Micheal Rubin - the co-owner of the Philadelphia Sixers - both of whom acknowledged the rap star's character and the positive impact he's had on his community.
Fortunately, after spending much of 2018 fighting for a new trial and the removal of Judge Genece E. Brinkley - who Meek and his legal team have accused of having a vendetta against the rapper - from his case, a Supreme Court granted Meek his release from prison on bail this past April. The decision, which came after it was discovered that the testimony given by the arresting officer in Meek Mill's case was included on a list of corrupt members of law enforcement earlier this year, signaled a big win for the embattled rapper and has given him the opportunity to use his platform to promote prison reform and to speak on the plight of men of color who are often victimized by the judicial system. While Meek Mill may be a free man, he is certainly not in the clear and remains embroiled in a fight for his freedom and to clear his name, but has the full support of the hip-hop community, as well as his city, behind him.
In light of Meek Mill's ongoing fight against the legal system, XXL has compiled a timeline of his criminal case and all of the events that have led to his current incarceration. Justice for Meek Mill.
In 2008, prior to his star turn as a rapper, Meek Mill was arrested in his hometown of Philadelphia and charged with illegal possession of a firearm and drug possession after police found a gun on him while walking to the corner store. Although Meek was reportedly beaten by the police, resulting in a concussion and one of his hair braids being ripped out, he was also charged with assault after two police officers claimed that Meek tried to run them down with a gun and murder them. Meek would be sentenced to 11 to 23 months in prison, but was released in 2009, after accepting a five-year parole agreement.
On Halloween day in 2012, Meek Mill was pulled over while driving in Philadelphia and arrested after police claimed they smelled marijuana coming from his car. Although Meek would be released the following day without being charged, the arrest allegedly affected his endorsement deal with Puma, as well as caused him to miss a paid appearance worth $40,000. The incident would result in the rapper suing the Philadelphia police department for civil rights violations, false imprisonment and invasion of privacy in 2014.
Meek Mill is banned from traveling by Judge Genece Brinkley after failing to stop scheduling performances during a previous hearing. Brinkley, who ordered the rapper to stop scheduling performances as of Nov. 16, 2012, would order Meek to stay in his hometown of Philadelphia for the holidays. This marked the beginning of the tumultuous relationship between the judge and MC.
In March 2013, Meek Mill appeared in court for a hearing related to a possible violation after his probation officer, Treas Underwood, alleged that the rapper had left the state of Pennsylvania without giving a detailed itinerary of his traveling destinations.
Meek, who argued that his travels plans are subject to change on a whim, also shared his fears of being stagnant in Philadelphia, arguing, “Every time I come back to Philadelphia, someone tries to shoot me or get me back in trouble.” The rapper's request for a new probation officer, due to his contentious relationship with Underwood, was also denied by Judge Brinkley during the hearing.
In June 2013, Meek Mill appeared in court for a probation hearing after failing to report travel plans, which he attributed to the nature of his career and many of his professional engagements coming on short notice. "I have my own record label with seven artists. ... I do radio. I do interviews," Meek reasoned, while his attorney also argued that due to his high-profile career, keeping tabs on the MC is a particularly easy task.
In addition to failure to report traveling, Meek also fell in hot water after statements he made on social media spurred fans to send death threats to Meek Mill's probation officer, prompting Judge Brinkley to order the rapper to take etiquette classes, concluding that the classes were "more important than any concerts he might have,"
On July 11, 2014, Judge Brinkley revoked Meek Mill's parole as a result of behavior that was deemed "questionable" by the District Attorney and herself. Meek would be sentenced to three to six months in prison and would eventually be released on Dec. 2, 2014, after serving nearly five months in prison.
In December 2015, Meek Mill was found guilty of parole violations yet again by Judge Brinkley, largely stemming from his failure to report his traveling plans, in addition to other behavior Brinkley deemed unacceptable. Meek would be banned from working or performing prior to a scheduled hearing on Feb. 5, 2016, during which he would be sentenced.
On Feb. 5, 2016, after over a month of uncertainty, Meek Mill would dodge a trip to state prison after Judge Brinkley sentenced the rapper to 90 days of house arrest after finding him guilty of parole violation. The house arrest began on March 1, 2016, and would end in June of that year. Meek would celebrate his release from house arrest with a "Welcome Home" party at Playhouse in Los Angeles.
Nearly a year after being released from house arrest, Meek Mill was involved in a scuffle that took place at a St. Louis airport. The incident, which occurred on March 15, stemmed from an airport employee attempting to get a picture with the MMG rapper. Meek would not be arrested, but would be charged with misdemeanor assault and be issued a summons to appear in court. The charges would eventually be dropped in October.
This past summer, Meek got into more hot water after he was caught popping wheelies on a dirt bike while in the Dyckman section of Manhattan. On Aug. 18, 2017, after videos capturing Meek Mill pulling stunts on a dirt bike went viral on social media, NYPD caught wind of the clip and charged the rapper with reckless endangerment. The felony charges would ultimately be dropped under the condition that Meek stay out of trouble for six months and complete community service.
Three months after charges were dropped stemming from a reckless endangerment incident, Meek Mill would be sentenced to two to four years in state prison during a parole hearing following his multiple run-ins with the law throughout the year. Judge Brinkley handed down the sentence and addressed Meek in court, stating, "I gave you break after break, and you basically just thumbed your nose at this court."
The judge concluded that being charged with assault and reckless endangerment (despite the charges being dropped) violated his probation terms and justified the heavy-handed sentence. Meek would be taken into custody immediately, with many entertainers and associates of the rapper voicing their outrage over the decision and lending words of support via social media.
Weeks after being sentenced to two to four years in prison for violating probation, Meek Mill's attorneys filed an emergency bail motion in Pennsylvania' Superior Court based on Judge Genece E. Brinkley's lack of response to their appeals.
"As of this filing, more than 10 days after submission [Brinkley] has taken no action—not even to schedule a hearing—on any petitioner’s motions, and in particular not on the bail motion,” read the emergency petition.
Judge Genece E. Brinkley denies Meek Mill's emergency bail request, deeming the rapper as a "flight-risk" and a "danger to the community.
On December 5, 2018, Meek Mill's Lawyer's responded to Judge Genece E. Brinkley's denial of their bail request with yet another bail motion in an attempt to get the MMG spitter out of prison. The motion, which was updated and accepted by the courts, pegged Judge Brinkley's claim that Meek Mill poses a "risk to the safety of others" is "unsupported and unfair."
In a report by The Inquirer, it is revealed that Meek Mill had been asked by the FBI to wear a wire in an attempt to record Judge Genece E. Brinkley, but that the Roc Nation artist had declined to take them up on the offer. The proposition came about after Meek Mill had previously urged the FBI to look into Judge Brinkley following his claims that Brinkley attempted to extort him for favors and revoked his probation after refusing to do so.
On January 27, 2018, it was reported that Judge Genece E. Brinkley was ordered to turn over transcripts of Meek Mill's probation hearing, one of the first breaks that went in Meek and his legal teams favor.
Judge Genece E. Brinkley went on the defensive amid Meek Mill's lawyer's claims that Brinkley had attempted to extort Meek Mill prior to revoking his probation the previous year. Pennsylvania lawyer A. Charles Peruto Jr., whom Brinkley hired, told TMZ that the judge was contemplating filing a lawsuit against Meek Mill and his legal team in response to allegations pegging her as "unethical," in addition to writing off Meek Mill's lawyer as "a circus clown."
Meek Mill's caught a big break when it was revealed that Reginald Graham, the arresting officer in Meek Mill's 2008 case, had been added to a list of cops with a "history of lying, racial bias, or brutality, in a move to block them from testifying in court." In light of this revelation, Meek Mill's lawyers filed a Post-Conviction Relief Act petition claiming requesting that Graham's testimony be thrown out. The petition also includes a statement from former Philadelphia police officer Jerold Gibson, who said Graham lied about Meek Mill aiming a firearm in his direction, which the rapper himself has long denied.
Judge Genece E. Brinkley grants Meek Mill a Post-Conviction Hearing less than a week after the rapper's lawyers filed a petition based off former Philadelphia police officer Reginald V. Graham's name appearing on a list of corrupt cops. The list, secretly compiled by the District Attorney's Office of Philadelphia, was a major blow to officer Graham's credibility as a witness and opened the door for Meek's possible freedom.
On March 15, 2018, the Philadelphia District Attorney's office submitted a filing that indicated Meek Mill's release from prison was "likely" and did not appear to oppose the rapper's petition for bail. Meek's attorney, Joe Tacopina, issues a statement in response to the D.A.'s new filing, stating “We are very pleased with the District Attorney’s filing today stating that he is not opposing Meek’s immediate release on bail, and that there is a strong likelihood that Meek’s conviction will ultimately be reversed in whole or in part. We look forward to his immediate release by the court on bail in light of this development.”
After Judge Genece E. Brinkley's personal attorney, Charles Peruto Jr., announced that he would sue Meek's legal and management team over Meek Mill's claims that Brinkley had attempted to extort him, the rapper lawyers filed a motion to have the judge removed from the case.
In spite of support of Meek Mill's request for bail on the part of Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf and the Philadelphia District Attorneys office, Judge Genece E. Brinkley denied Meek Mill's request to be released from prison, a move that Meek Mill's lawyer, Joe Tacopina, said confirmed Brinkley's bias.
“This ruling from Judge Genece Brinkley simply reaffirms the fact she has turned Meek Mill’s case into a personal vendetta," he states. "In spite of the recommendations from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, which was supported by Governor Tom Wolf, the judge continues to stand alone in supporting Officer Reginald Graham’s perjured testimony as well as his criminal behavior that has been documented. Fortunately, we have already filed petitions with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to secure his release and we remain hopeful that the Court will right this injustice very soon.”
On April 16, 2018, Meek Mill's lawyer announced that the rapper was granted a new hearing by Judge Genece Brinkely to discuss the possibility of another trial after the Philadelphia District Attorneys office agreed that his conviction on drugs and gun charges should be vacated.
Following a Supreme Court Hearing on April 24, 2018, Meek Mill was ordered to be released from prison on bail while he appeals his 2008 conviction on drug and guns charges. The ruling, which overturned that of Judge Genece E. Brinkley's during previous hearings, was the break Meek and his legal team had been anticipating for months while fighting for his appeal.
A day following Meek Mill's release from prison, Judge Genece E. Brinkley lawyer, Charles Peruto Jr., revealed that in spite of the Supreme Courts ruling, she refused to recuse herself from Meek Mill's case, due to her belief that she had given the rapper a fair trial and would continue to do so.
On April 26, 2018, it was reported that although Meek Mill was free on bail, the rapper was barred from traveling outside of Philadelphia until his court hearing on June 18, 2018. Court documents, obtained by The Blast, stated in part that "this Court ORDERS that Defendant reside in Philadelphia County, be supervised by the Philadelphia County Adult Probation and Parole Department, and shall report to the Philadelphia County Adult Probation and Parole Department within 24 hours of the date of this Order.”
In their latest attempt to attack Judge Genece E. Brinkley's credibility, Meek Mill's lawyers presented a civil suit the judge had filed in 2016, in which she claims she potentially suffered from severe brain trauma following a 2016 car accident. Meek Mill's lawyers suggested that Brinkley's alleged injuries may have affected her ability to perform professionally.
On June 1, 2018, Meek Mill's lawyers filed a motion in Supreme Court to remove Judge Genece E. Brinkley from the rapper's case, alleging that the judge "has not acted to advance the interest of justice." The motion also pointed to statements Brinkley had made to various press outlets, stating that "she will not remove herself from the case because she "knows Meek’s case inside and out, and the Supreme Court Justices do not.'”
On June 12, 2018, it was revealed that Judge Genece E. Brinkley would remain on Meek Mill's case following a split vote by the Supreme Court, meaning that Brinkley would be overseeing Meek Mill's forthcoming June. 18 hearing.
"We remain hopeful that the overwhelming amount of evidence in this case—and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s backing will prompt Judge Brinkley to grant Meek a new trial, failing which we will promptly pursue all appellate remedies available to right this terrible injustice," Meek Mill's lawyer, Joe Tacopina, stated after the decision was announced.
When Meek Mill returned to court on June 18, 2018 to request a retrial on his 2008 conviction on gun and drug charges, the rapper's lawyers accused Judge Genece E. Brinkley of laughing at one of their witnesses, public defender Bradley Bridge. Although Brinkley would deny those claims, the defense and Bradley would stand by their accusation, which is the latest in a string from Meek Mill's defense team painting Brinkley in a unflattering light.
A week after appearing in court to request a retrial in his 2008 conviction on drugs and weapons charges, Meek Mill's motion was denied by Judge Genece E. Brinkley, who claimed the defense failed to provide enough proof in questioning the officer’s credibility.
Mill’s lawyer Joe Tacopina told XXL, “We are not at all surprised by Judge Brinkley‘s decision today. Despite the agreement of the District Attorney’s office on the need for a new trial, and the granting of new trials to other identically situated defendants, Judge Brinkley made clear during the hearing on June 18th that she had already decided the matter. We continue to believe that this miscarriage of justice will be corrected upon further review, and that the public’s confidence in the impartiality of the judicial system in Pennsylvania will be restored.”
Days after Judge Genece E. Brinkley's denial of Meek Mill's request for a new trial, the rapper's legal team went back on the offensive, filing a new motion in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to remove Brinkley from the case in light of what they perceived as vindictive bias, on her part. The filing, obtained by XXL, cites that Judge Brinkley “acted like a prosecutor, not a judge” and has had "multiple chances to step aside on this matter in the interests of justice, but she repeatedly has refused to do the right thing."