Meek Mill’s legal battle has been tumultuous. A court clerk was fired for asking the rapper to pay her son’s tuition. The judge presiding over Meek’s probation hearing, Genece Brinkley, has been accused of bias and unethical practices by the rapper’s legal team. And most recently, Judge Brinkley has hired lawyer A Charles Peruto Jr. to fight those same claims. It’s all a mess.
On Feb. 7, Peruto spoke with TMZ about Brinkley’s potential suit. In the process of defending Brinkley, he described Mill’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, as a “circus clown.”
XXL reached out to Tacopina one day later. While the lawyer declined to respond to Peruto’s “circus clown” comment, he did reveal that Peruto has a curious history with this case.
“This is the same lawyer who begged to get onto Meek Mill’s case,” Tacopina tells XXL of Peruto. “He called Brian McMonagle—the local Philadelphia lawyer—and asked to be part of the defense team and then went to go visit Meek. Of course, Meek turned him down and Brian turned him down. And all of a sudden, he’s representing the judge.”
Tacopina suggests that the situation reeks of foul play. “There was this whole dispute over a transcript that we wanted released, that [Judge Brinkley] wouldn’t release. She sealed it, she wouldn’t give it to even us, and then she released it two weeks ago.” He says that Peruto told Brinkley to release the transcript after he read it. “When does a judge’s private attorney have access to private transcripts before it gets unsealed?”
Peruto is not the only source of Tacopina’s frustration. He says the two-to-four year sentence levied unto Meek Mill is the single greatest injustice. “This judge totally abused her discretion, has a personal issue with Meek and has done things that are inappropriate in regards to this case,” Tacopina says. “She gave him a two-to-four year sentence when both the district attorney and probation officer recommended no jail time for what was a technical violation, not a criminal offense.”
He continues: “It would be a different story if the district attorney and the probation officer were saying that [Meek Mill] was a bad defendant on probation and it’s just the defense crying foul. But it’s not. The district attorney and the probation officer both said he’s been a model probationer: He’s doing charity work, he’s rehabiliting, he’s doing the things you’re supposed to do.”
According to Tacopina, Brinkley’s alleged abuse of discretion is not confined to Meek Mill’s case. “She’s filed 29 lawsuits as a judge and in some of these lawsuits, she’s used her title as a judge in her personal letter—her personal lawsuit—to try and intimidate litigants,” Tacopina says. “She’s using her title to intimate people into bowing down. That’s inappropriate and unethical.”
In spite of the whirlwind of drama and the disheartening sentence, Tacopina has positive updates to share regarding Meek’s case. Tacopina says his legal team has information that would make said arrest “problematic.” Additionally, the team plans to file papers to the higher court in the upcoming week to get Meek Mill out on bail and have the case reconsidered.
“We are going to get Meek Mill out,” Tacopina declares. “There’s no way we will let this injustice stand.”
As for Meek Mill’s emotional state throughout the ordeal, Tacopina notes that while the rapper has good and bad days, Meek is mostly overwhelmed and inspired by the support he has been receiving.
“He knows that he has a team that supports him and is fighting for him, he’s got amazing support,” Tacopina says. “[During the Super Bowl], he watched the Eagles coming out to his music in solidarity for him. He saw others on the sidelines wearing ‘Free Meek Mill’ jerseys. He’s inspired by that stuff, and he knows that people aren’t letting this be swept under the rug.” —Donna-Claire Chesman