Meek Mill‘s lawyer isn’t the only one confounded by the two-to-four-year prison sentence handed down on Monday (Nov. 6) by a Pennsylvania Common Pleas Court judge over the rapper’s probation violation.
Attorney Joe Tacopina told Billboard on Tuesday (Nov. 7) that he believes Judge Genece Brinkley is “enamored” with his client, alleging that Brinkley “showed up at his community service” and made the unusual request that Mill (born Robert Williams) re-record a popular Boyz II Men song (“On Bended Knee”) for her, and include a personal tribute on the track.
“That, right there, was a totally inappropriate request,” said Tacopina, adding that Brinkley also allegedly asked Mill to leave his current management company — Roc Nation — and sign with a Philadelphia local who she has a personal relationship with. The hip-hop community rallied behind the 30 year-old Wins and Losses rapper, and decried what they feel is an egregious decision tied to a gun and drug case from 2008. T.I. and Nipsey Hussle left encouraging messages for Meek suggesting that he remain positive, while JAY-Z was critical of Brinkley’s decision, dubbing it “unjust and heavy handed” in a Facebook post.
“If the original sentence was at least for 4 years in prison but mostly got suspended because of probation, then it’s legal to impose 2-4 years if he violates the terms,” Robert Weisberg, Director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center tells Billboard. Though Weisberg has no direct first-hand knowledge of the details of the case, he adds that if Tacopina’s claims are true, “this is indeed wildly disproportionate, for the violations — and in any event, the judge’s intrusion into the probation and community service is really bizarre. Looks like this should have been handled by another judge.”
Brinkley cited a failed drug test, as well as a failure to comply with a court order restricting the rapper’s travel and two unrelated arrests earlier this year — for an airport fight and reckless driving charge — as reasons for her sentencing, which was handed down despite a prosecutor’s recommendation that Mill not be imprisoned for the violations.
“I’m human. I’m not perfect,” Mill said to Brinkley in court on Monday, according to a report from Philly.com. “I’m asking for mercy. You gave me the ladder to do what I have to do to prevail in my struggle. I made it this far, I can’t really go back and start over.”
New York attorney Stacey Richman, who has worked with a number of high-profile rappers in the past (DMX, Ja Rule, Desiigner), was similarly shocked by Tacopina’s allegations. “This is so huge… that is such a violation,” says Richman of the claims about the community service drop-in and alleged Boyz II Men and management requests. “I have seen this with parole officers messing with famous people for deals… a judge could be removed from the bench and it is a crime, [though] each state has different statutes for this.”
Like Weisberg, Richman has no first-hand knowledge of the case’s specifics, but adds that if all of Tacopina’s allegations are true it could rise to the level of “vindictive prosecution,” and Meek might be eligible to get bailed out and sue if Tacopina is able to produce footage to prove his claims about the judge. “It is highly unusual for a judge to show up at community service,” she says. “When I say highly unusual — I mean, it does not happen.”
A spokesperson for Judge Brinkley’s media team had no comment on Tacopina’s claims.