Meek Mill’s lawyers ask court to remove judge from his case

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 25: Meek Mill performs during V-103 Live Pop Up Concert at Philips Arena on March 25, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Meek Mill’s lawyers have asked Pennsylvania’s highest court to remove a judge from his long-running criminal case, accusing her of bias and blasting her conduct as unprofessional.

The rapper’s lawyers have been harshly critical of Philadelphia Judge Genece Brinkley, saying she has treated him unfairly. Their latest filing asks the state Supreme Court to replace her with another judge.

Brinkley’s behavior “necessitates her immediate removal from this case,” Mill’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, said Monday.

In November, the judge ordered Mill to spend two to four years in prison for violating probation from an old conviction on drug and weapons charges. He spent five months behind bars before the Supreme Court ordered Brinkley to release him on unsecured bail.

In a filing late Friday, Mill’s lawyers argued that Brinkley has made inappropriate comments about Mill in and out of court, acting more like a prosecutor than an impartial jurist.

They claimed Brinkley violated judicial ethics rules by hiring a lawyer to publicly defend her against accusations of bias, and faulted the judge for her insistence on holding a hearing on Mill’s petition for a new trial even though prosecutors had agreed to it. The lawyers said that’s unheard of in Philadelphia.

The defense also questioned Brinkley’s fitness to continue serving as a judge, citing a lawsuit she filed in April over a 2016 car accident in which she said she suffered neurological injuries. In a separate lawsuit, filed in 2014, Brinkley alleged she was “traumatized” when she found a housekeeper’s nametag in her bed at a hotel during a judicial conference, Mill’s lawyers said.

The judge’s attorney, A. Charles Peruto Jr., said Monday that Brinkley continues to believe she has been fair toward Mill.

“Everything they have stated for why she should recuse herself is either made up or irrelevant, and it’s not a reason to recuse herself from deciding this case,” he said.

In an earlier opinion in the case, Brinkley defended herself against the accusations, saying the court “has impartially and without prejudice presided over numerous proceedings in this matter since 2008.”

Mills has been fighting to get his 2008 convictions on drug and gun charges thrown out because of questions about the credibility of the arresting officer. The rapper has attracted support from a string of high-powered figures and celebrities, and he was a fixture at Philadelphia 76ers playoff games this spring.

Mill’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court for a quick decision, noting his appeals hearing before Brinkley is scheduled for June 18. The justices have previously declined to throw Brinkley off the case, but noted she could remove herself.