On Monday (Nov. 6), Meek Mill was sentenced two to four years in state prison for violating probation stemming from a 2008 gun and drug case. Common Pleas Judge Genece Brinkley, cited a failed drug test and a failure to comply with a court order restricting his travel as her basis for sentencing.
The hip-hop community rallied behind the Wins and Losses MC and decried her egregious decision on social media. While T.I. and Nipsey Hussle left encouraging messages for Meek suggesting that he remains positive, rap luminary JAY-Z was critical of Brinkley’s decision, dubbing it “unjust and heavy handed” in a Facebook post.
Meanwhile, Meek’s attorney Joe Tacopina vows to appeal his client’s ruling and tackle Brinkley’s decision, citing that she has a personal vendetta against the Philly rapper.
“She’s enamored with him,” Tacopina tells Billboard. “She showed up at his community service for the homeless people. She showed up and sat at the table. She’s a judge. You could pull any judge in America and ask them how many times they’ve showed up at a community service for a probation and the answer is zero.”
Tacopina spoke to Billboard about what he called Brinkley’s “infatuation” with Mill, how she requested that he re-record a Boyz II Men song and shout her out, and how she wanted him to leave Roc Nation to sign with a friend of hers. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Billboard: What were your initial thoughts after Judge Brinkley revealed Meek’s sentencing on Monday?
Tacopina: It was an enormously grave mischaracter of justice. A really despicable version of what the justice system is supposed to be. There’s three people in the court room besides the defendant: The prosecutors, the district attorney — who’s in charge of enforcing laws and handing out punishments — [and] the probation officer who’s in charge with enforcing people who are on probation making sure that they apply with the law and when they don’t, recommending punishment.
Then, there’s a judge that’s supposed to be a fair, neutral arbitrator and oversee. Both the probation officer and the district attorney recommended no incarceration for these violations. No incarceration. But this judge excoriated both of them, challenged their credibility and overrode both law enforcement agencies recommendations and went from zero to two to four years, which shows that she clearly had a personal vendetta against this guy [Mill].
But when you look at all the other facts, like a judge crossing the line of professionalism and traditional conduct, [who] will make the request that Meek Mill re-record a famous Philadelphia pop band, Boyz II Men’s song “On Bended Knee,” where he concludes with a tribute to her and mentions her by name in the song. And he, of course, was laughing and thought it was a joke, she said, “I’m serious.” He refused to do that.
So, that, right there, was a totally an inappropriate request. 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.
Another really credible example is she stopped him for violation of probation was when he went to Atlanta for a rehabilitation clinic, without her approval, she said. Then, we showed her the e-mail, in which the request was made for him to go to Atlanta for rehabilitation, and she approved it, but she said that she never got it, even though she was CC’d on it and that it was addressed to her.
She asked the district attorney to confirm it and when the district attorney was asked to confirm that she never got it, the district attorney said, “No Judge, you did get it and you responded.” She said, “You’re both wrong and I never got it.” I mean, despite cold hard evidence in her face in an e-mail, she’s claiming that she didn’t get it even though clearly she did. It’s things like that that show that this judge crossed all conceivable lines.
From 2008 — this thing was supposed to be over since 2013. We’re going to 2018. She keeps extending the probation, extending the probation for technical violation because she wants her thumb over this guy. She’s enamored with him. She showed up at his community service for the homeless people. She showed up and sat at the table. She’s a judge. You could poll any judge in America and ask them how many times they’ve showed up at a community service for a probation and the answer is zero.
So it’s infatuation at this point?
It’s an infatuation, it’s some sort of an obsession, and when a judge says to someone can you re-record a song, mention my name and do a shout-out to me about how I [saved] up your life and he says no? Great, now what kind of position is he in?
You were with Meek yesterday. How would you describe his mental space after receiving the sentencing?
Ah, he’s a strong kid. He knows he has a bunch of people fighting for him. I mean, what this has done is spur outage. Mike Rubin [part-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers] was going absolutely wild. JAY-Z is out there going absolutely wild. People who are very powerful in that community are not going to stand there and take that. There’s going to be a real sort of powerful and strong response.
Despite Meek’s criminal history, he has proven to be an asset in the Philadelphia community with his philanthropy. Why do you think despite his acts of kindness, he was handed such a severe sentence for such a light violation?
A typical violation because the underlying cases were dismissed [Laughs]. By the way, district attorneys and probation officers are not Meek Mill’s allies. They’re not his friends, but they’re people who prosecuted him. They recommended no jail. When you have that and a judge does that combined with her private and individual acts and inappropriate requests and inappropriate actions, it’s obvious to anyone that’s been on the justice system at either side of the table what’s going on.
I mean, there was a chief probation officer who last year testified at the hearing that Meek didn’t commit a violation and that he thought he was compliant and so on and so forth, she found him incredible at the hearing. This is a probation chief, 30 year supervisor, [found him] incredible at the hearing and sure enough, he was removed from the case. So, anyone who disagreed with [Judge Brinkley] or said anything decent about Meek, was removed from the case.
You’ve been open in regards to Judge Brinkley having a certain prejudice against Meek and his star power. In what other ways besides the Boyz II Men incident do you believe that she’s been trying to capitalize off his status to raise her own?
Well, Meek made it out of his community and became a true superstar and maybe she wants to have certain control of him. Maybe she’s jealous of him. Maybe she felt scorned that he didn’t add her in a song that she may have requested for. I don’t know. Why did she show up at a community service? What judge has ever showed up at a community service to watch whether somebody is doing something, community service or not. Why did she ask that her friend be his manager and not Roc Nation? That lacks appropriateness of a judge. You can’t do that as a judge, but she did it.
Do you think Meek’s celebrity status in conjunction to his racial background were catalysts in Brinkley’s decision? Did one outweigh the other?
I don’t know about that. She’s black too, so that I don’t know, but certainly who he is and what he’s become has. For 10 years, he’s been on probation. He’s been on probation for 10 years and he’s had no major violations. No one would survive this level of scrutiny, no one, for 10 years. Probation is supposed to be for five years, but she just wants to extend it because it’s her latching on, clearly. For anyone that makes a request for a recording artist mention her in a song when you’re the judge overseeing this person’s liberty, is clearly inappropriate.
Where do you and Meek go from here?
We’re going to appeal. We’re going to appeal until this gets rectified and it will get rectified. I’m sure of that.