Justice Genece E. Brinkley, the Philadelphia judge who sentenced Meek Mill to prison over a parole violation, rejected requests from the rapper's legal team to reconsider her decision and to recuse herself from the case over alleged personal biases. On Monday, Judge Brinkley said that Mill's two-to-four-year sentence was "absolutely necessary."
"[The] defendant received proper notice of all alleged probation violations in advance of his hearing," Brinkley wrote in court documents. "The sentence imposed was not manifestly excessive and this Court stated sufficient reasons on the record to support a state sentence of 2 to 4 years."
Meek first stood before Judge Brinkley about a decade ago after he was given five years' probation due to drug and gun-related charges. Over the next several years, Brinkley adjudicated more cases involving the rapper. In 2012, one of her rulings revoked the rapper's travel permit. She ordered him to take etiquette classes in May 2013, among other rulings. In August 2017, she charged Meek with a felony count of reckless endangerment – which was later dropped to a misdemeanor and dismissed – after he rode with a group of kids on dirt bikes in New York.
Meek's probation officer and an assistant district attorney objected to the rapper's most recent two-to-four-year sentence. The ruling also drew outrage from prominent figures within the entertainment industry. "The sentence handed down by the Judge – against the recommendation of the Assistant District Attorney and Probation Officer – is unjust and heavy handed,” Jay-Z wrote Facebook. "We will always stand by and support Meek Mill, both as he attempts to right this wrongful sentence and then in returning to his musical career."
In late March, the rapper's lawyer Joe Tacopina requested Brinkley's removal from the case due to "unusual personal interest." He alleged that the judge crossed numerous professional boundaries, including requesting Meek re-record the Boyz II Men song "On Bended Knee" as a "tribute to her" and asking the rapper to switch management companies.
"When she requests he leaves his current management Roc Nation – which is one of the most important management companies in the world – and goes back to a local Philadelphia guy who has a spotted past because she had a personal relationship with him as manager, again, she's doing something that a judge would never be doing, having a personal interest," Tacopina told Billboard last November.
Responding to the song request claims in her ruling, Brinkley wrote, "This bald allegation has no basis in reality. There is zero evidence to support this claim. The court has repeatedly told Defendant that he cannot demand special treatment just because he has chosen to be an entertainer." She also accused Meek and his lawyers of "fabricating" claims that the FBI was investigating his case.
Brinkley's decision arrives over two weeks after the Philadelphia District Attorney's office said it was "unopposed" to releasing the rapper on bail. The following week, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf said in a statement that he supported releasing the rapper, who has been jailed since November for violating probation on a 2008 drug and gun conviction.
"I support D.A. Larry Krasner’s position in the case of Robert Williams (Meek Mill)," Wolf tweeted. "Our criminal justice system is in need of repair. That’s why my admin has made efforts to invest in programs that divert individuals from the system, improve public safety, and promote fairness."
Tacopina criticized Brinkley's ruling on Monday, continuing to accuse the judge of harboring a "personal vendetta" against his client. "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," the attorney said in statement to the New York Daily News. "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."
The rapper spoke against Judge Brinkley in a Rolling Stone profile last month. "There's brothers locked down that did nothing to be here but piss off people like Brinkley," the rapper said. One lawyer described her as a "sadist," while another added, "Brinkley's the judge you'd least want to be supervised by. Any failure to live by her rules will be punished."