That Meek Mill bail hearing? Scheduled by mistake, court officials say

Rapper Meek Mill, right, arrives the Criminal Justice Center with his lawyer Brian McMonagle, center, in Philadelphia, PA on November 6, 2017.

Oops.

Meek Mill may yet get another day in court — but it won’t be on Nov. 27.

In an incident that will likely infuriate the Philly-born rapper’s already enraged supporters, a Philadelphia court employee on Friday mistakenly scheduled a bail hearing for the imprisoned Mill — only to have officials say hours later there were no plans for such a hearing.

Gabriel Roberts, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Courts, said Friday that Mill’s legal team electronically filed a motion requesting bail pending appeal under his birth name, Robert Williams. Not recognizing the defendant as the high-profile hip-hop artist who was sent back to prison last week, a court clerk scheduled the matter for a routine hearing before Common Pleas Court Judge Genece E. Brinkley on Nov. 27.

“It was a clerical error,” Roberts said. “Judge Brinkley schedules her own hearings.”

And she certainly had not scheduled Mill to be back in her courtroom on Nov. 27.

Within hours of the news lighting up social media — an Instagram post by basketball superstar LeBron James drew more than 200,000 likes — the hearing-that-never-was had been scrapped. An entry on the case docket late Friday read: “Corrective Docket Entry — Bail Hearing listed for 11/27/2017 was scheduled in error.”

The error caught Mill’s legal team unaware, and they had no immediate comment.

The scheduling error was more shocking than the initial surprising news that Brinkley would hear Mill’s bail petition — 11 days after igniting a publicity firestorm by sending the hip-hop star back to prison for two to four years for violating the terms of his 2008 probation in a drug and gun case.

The motion filed by Mill’s legal team asked Brinkley to release him on bail not secured by property or other assets. Since his initial release from prison in 2008 — after a conviction on gun and drug charges — Mill had been free on unsecured bail of $40,000, a provision that allowed him to build his burgeoning career while under the restrictions of Brinkley’s probation. About the only good news Mill got this week was his transfer from the maximum-security prison at Camp Hill, near Harrisburg, where he was held in solitary confinement for his protection. Earlier this week, he was transferred to the medium-security state prison in Chester.

Aided by a media campaign organized by his management, Roc Nation, hundreds of thousands have flocked to social media or signed internet petitions calling for his release. Some have called Mill a symbol of the mass incarceration of young black men in the United States.

In their motion, Mill’s lawyers noted that the District Attorney’s Office has not taken a position on granting him bail pending appeal and that neither the prosecutor nor Mill’s probation officer sought a prison term for his most recent “technical violations” of his probation.

Freeing him on bail is within Brinkley’s discretion. His lawyers contend the “ultimate issues are whether the defendant is a danger to any other person or to the community or to himself” and if he’s a risk to flee or violate other bail conditions. They noted he is “widely known for his creativity and his philanthropy” and an “excellent” candidate for bail.

“Since being convicted in this case a decade ago, he has suffered no new convictions, and has not engaged in other criminal activity,” their motion reads. “He does not present any danger to the community. He has matured, become

Camera icon Michael Bryant
Judge Genece E. Brinkley

a responsible father, acquired a profession in which he has excelled, conquered a drug habit, and generally been rehabilitated.”

Friday’s bail motion was the last in a series asking Brinkley to reconsider the prison term, reduce it to time already served, and end his decade-old probation.

All the motions supplement Mill’s original motion, filed Tuesday, asking Brinkley to disqualify herself from Mill’s case entirely because of an alleged personal bias against the rapper and to let another judge reconsider her sentence.

His lawyers have also vowed, if unsuccessful in Common Pleas Court, to appeal the prison term to Superior Court, calling it excessive for technical violations of Mill’s probation: testing positive for the prescription narcotic Percocet and two misdemeanor arrests this year. Mill’s lawyers also maintain that Brinkley has exceeded her authority as a judge, in effect acting as a prosecutor in the case, and making suggestions about how to pursue his performing career.

At the Nov. 6 sentencing, Brinkley said that she was “done with” Mill and that when he completes his minimum two years in prison and becomes eligible for parole, his case would be handled by the state Board of Probation and Parole.