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Young Thug's attorney accuses judge of joining 'prosecutors' team'

Shaddi Abusaid, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in News & Features

ATLANTA — Young Thug’s defense lawyer says the Fulton County judge presiding over the musician’s gang and racketeering trial should be disqualified from the case after last week’s secret meeting between the judge, prosecutors and a state’s witness.

Brian Steel said his most recent motion for a mistrial was “goaded by the improper conduct” of Judge Ural Glanville and the prosecutors he met with June 10 in his chambers.

Steel’s client, hip-hop star Jeffery Williams, has been on trial since the beginning of 2023, along with five codefendants. Now in its 18th month, it is the longest trial in Georgia history.

“The court has joined the prosecutors’ team and is biased against Mr. Williams and favorable to the prosecutors,” Steel wrote, accusing the judge of violating superior court rules and the Georgia code of judicial conduct.

He also said the judge’s bias has been on display throughout proceedings.

Steel handed the judge a copy of his recusal motion at the end of court Monday. Glanville briefly read through the filing and told attorneys he would take up the issue on Tuesday.

Other requests for a mistrial have been denied by Glanville, along with similar motions seeking his recusal. Glanville will likely deny Steel’s motion and any subsequent request for immediate review by an appellate court. That’s what he did last week when another defense attorney sought his recusal.

Glanville held Steel in contempt last week after the defense lawyer found out about the ex parte meeting involving witness Kenneth Copeland and asked the judge about it in court. Glanville demanded that Steel tell him how he learned of the secret meeting, but Steel refused to disclose his source.

The judge sentenced the prominent attorney to 20 days behind bars, but that sentenced was stayed by the Georgia Supreme Court and Steel didn’t have to report to jail as ordered. He will remain free while appealing the criminal contempt charge.


Glanville’s decision to hold Steel in contempt outraged metro Atlanta attorneys. Many called the private meeting with Copeland coercive and improper, and said Steel was simply defending his client.

Steel suggested in court and in legal filings that the meeting was about encouraging Copeland to testify after he refused to do so and spent the weekend in jail. Steel said Copeland was told that if he didn’t testify, he could be held custody until the trial is over, or until the remaining defendants have their cases adjudicated.

Steel called the meeting “unlawful” and said that Glanville rejected inquiries by defense counsel about what was said in chambers.

“Instead, the court stunningly demanded to know how (we) came into possession of the information about the ex parte meeting,” Steel wrote in the motion.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, “sat mute and permitted the court to attempt to interrogate and intimidate another member of the Bar,” Steel added.

He also said lead prosecutor Adriane Love “promoted the court’s wrongful conduct” by arguing that the earlier meeting was proper and not a violation of the law.

Steel wrote that if Glanville does not recuse himself, the issue must be taken up by another judge who would determine whether Glanville can remain on the case.

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