Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ Office Responds to Motions to Recuse Judge Young Thug

ATLANTA, Georgia (Atlanta News First) – Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ office has responded to defense attorneys’ requests to disqualify the judge overseeing the internationally-watched criminal trial of music star Young Thug in Atlanta.

According to court documents, prosecutors say defense attorneys’ requests to remove Judge Ural Glanville from the YSL trial should be denied.

Willis and the other prosecutors were originally given until 5 p.m. Monday to respond to defense attorneys’ motions to recuse Supreme Court Judge Ural Glanville, but Superior Court Judge Rachel Krause gave them an additional two days in which to determine whether Glanville should be recused.

The trial of Jeffery Williams – known as Young Thug – was halted on July 1 when Glanville referred motions for his removal to another judge, who later turned out to be Krause.

The latest reason for the trial delay was a scheduled June 10, 2024, in camera conference between Glanville, two Fulton County prosecutors, star prosecution witness Kenneth Copeland (also known as Woody or Lil’ Woody) and his deputy, Kayla Bumpus.

The legal term ex parte, translated from Latin as “outside the party,” refers to a decision made by a judge without the presence of all parties to the dispute.

Last week, Glanville released a schedule and transcript of the meeting that led to Young Thug’s attorney, Brian Steel, being charged with contempt of court that same day.

On June 7, 2024, Copeland himself was imprisoned for refusing to testify. It is widely believed that Copeland tipped off police about alleged crimes committed by Young Thug and the alleged YSL gang.

On Monday, Copeland changed his mind and agreed to testify.

Glanville then ordered Steel’s arrest for contempt of court, after Steel told Glanville in open court that he had learned of an ex parte meeting that had taken place without the knowledge or warning of the other defense attorneys. Glanville demanded that Steel know how he had learned of the meeting, and Steel refused to reveal his source. Glanville then ordered Steel’s arrest.

The Georgia Supreme Court’s contempt of court ruling against Glanville against Steel has been stayed.

Steel filed a new motion this week asking Krause to recuse herself from deciding whether Glanville should remain in the YSL case. The motion also calls for the removal of the two lead prosecutors from the trial. Judge Krause denied the motion to recuse herself from deciding whether Judge Glanville should remain in the case.

Steel and Young Thug’s other attorney, Keith Adams, has repeatedly filed motions for a mistrial, as have attorneys for some of the other defendants in the case. Glanville has denied all of the repeated motions, as well as motions by Steel and other attorneys to recuse themselves from the case, at least until last week.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys continue to haggle over Copeland’s police interviews and jailhouse tapes. Steel accuses prosecutors of coercing a confession from Copeland, who he said was surrounded by law enforcement officers and district attorneys.

Williams was arrested on May 9, 2022, along with 27 other suspected gang members in Buckhead on a 56-count indictment.

Jury selection for the trial took longer than any in Georgia history, and the witness testimony alone is likely to surpass state records. Both records were set by the Atlanta Public Schools teacher scandal and trial in 2014-15.

Prosecutors are trying to show that YSL, or Young Slime Life, is a criminal street gang responsible for numerous crimes. Defense attorneys say YSL is not a gang, but simply the name of the Young Stoner Life record label.

Young Thug himself faces eight criminal charges under the federal law, which was originally enacted to combat organized crime. Georgia is one of 33 states that has its own RICO law, but in the Peach State, alleged criminal enterprises don’t have to exist as long as the federal law is in effect.

The trial — which has been repeatedly marked by arrests, charges and disruptions — is set to begin on Nov. 27, 2023. Defense attorneys have repeatedly raised concerns that the trial could drag on for years, given the number of witnesses the state plans to call.

Williams also faces charges of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of codeine with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine, possession of a firearm and possession of a machine gun.

Williams’ attorneys say the artist is not a leader of the alleged gang, contrary to what prosecutors say.

A total of 18 jurors have been selected, including six alternates. Two jurors have already been discharged; one had a medical emergency and the other moved out of Fulton County.

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