Young Thug trial: Judge Glanville denies motion made by Brian Steel to disqualify him

Young Thug's lawyer, Brian Steel, filed a motion Monday on behalf of his client to have Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville removed from the massive RICO trial over alleged misconduct.

Judge Glanville denied the motion on Tuesday morning, saying that the claims in the motions were insufficient. 

Quantavious Grier, brother of Young Thug, will now have to serve the remainder of his sentence in prison after being discovered with a weapon.

Quantavious Grier, brother of Young Thug, will now have to serve the remainder of his sentence in prison after being discovered with a weapon. (FOX 5)

Steel filed the motion to disqualify/recuse the judge over an alleged improper meeting between Judge Glanville, prosecutors from the Fulton County District Attorney's Office, and witness Kenneth Copeland, who has been on the witness stand since Monday.

It all began when Copeland, also known as Lil Woody, refused to testify on June 7. He was held in contempt of court and forced to spend the weekend in jail.

Copeland, who is a convicted felon, reportedly gave police information about Young Thug and his associations to avoid going back to prison after he was caught with a gun while on parole.

After Copeland returned to the stand on June 10 and began testifying, Steel confronted Judge Glanville about an "ex parte meeting" that was reportedly held that morning to convince Copeland to testify.

Brian Steel and Young Thug in Fulton County courtroom on June 10, 2024. 

The judge became angry when Steel refused to tell him who informed the lawyer about the meeting and held Steel in contempt of court, stating that he would spend 20 days (10 weekends) in jail. 

In the motion, the court is accused of being "so biased against undersigned counsel and/or Mr. Williams, the court ignored all laws and pursued contempt penalties to attempt to intimidate undersigned counsel to violate the law and ethics in order to continue to help the prosecution convict Mr. Williams and others."

A couple of days later, Steel confronted the judge again in court about how Copeland was being treated by the Fulton County DA's office, comparing it to "communist Russia."


The Supreme Court of Georgia granted Steel a Writ of Certiorari to address the appeal of the contempt order. 

The motion claims there have been other instances where the judge has demonstrated a personal bias or prejudice towards Steel and/or his client. 

After denying the motion, Glanville invited the lawyers to look at Baptiste vs. State. The judge also said that he would not grant a motion for a Certificate for Immediate Review.

Additionally, Judge Glanville said that he would address a separate motion made to quash after the court has finished with the current witness.

Steel asked the judge to take another look at the motion, specifically paragraph 12, and reconsider his decision. He also informed the judge that he plans to ask Copeland about how much pressure the court put on him when it is his chance to cross-examine the witness and that he plans to put the court and the prosecution on his witness list. Steel also objected to Judge Glanville saying he would review the transcripts of the ex parte meeting before turning them over to the defense. 

However, Judge Glanville continued to deny the motion from Steel. 

Glanville also addressed a motion to quash from attorney Kayla Bumpus a Show Cause Order he issued related to the ex parte meeting. Judge Glanville issued the Show Cause Order to those present at the meeting, ordering them to show cause why they should not be held in contempt for disclosing the meeting to Young Thug's attorney. Judge Glanville told the team of lawyers who appeared on behalf of Bumpus that he would address the quash motion after the court was done with the current witness. 

The trial, which began on Nov. 27, 2023, after the longest jury selection in history, has been plagued with arrests, charges, and various disruptions.

Williams is also represented by attorney Keith Adams. 

Can Judge Glanville become a witness in the case?

Georgia State University law professor Anthony Michael Kreis said the entire trial has been unusual. 

"[Ex parte meetings] kinds of meetings are highly disfavored. In fact they should never really happen but for the most emergent circumstances," Kreis said. "You can’t have a judge sitting as an adjudicator as in, or as an impartial decision maker at a criminal trial who is also witness."

Kreis said now that Judge Glanville denied the recusal motion, the defense will likely ask a higher court to step in through what's known as a writ of mandamus. 

What are the charges Young Thug faces?

A Fulton County grand jury indicted Young Thug in May 2022, and more charges were added in a subsequent indictment in August of that year. The second indictment accuses Young Thug and 27 other people of conspiring to violate Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO. The rapper is also accused of participation in criminal street gang activity, as well as drug and gun charges.

Prosecutors say Young Thug and two other people co-founded a violent criminal street gang in 2012 called Young Slime Life, or YSL, which they say is associated with the national Bloods gang. The indictment says Young Thug "made YSL a well-known name by referring to it in his songs and on social media."

In addition to specific charges, the August indictment includes a wide-ranging list of 191 acts that prosecutors say were committed between 2013 and 2022 as part of the alleged conspiracy to further the gang’s interests.

Included in that list is an allegation that Young Thug threatened in July 2015 to shoot a security guard who was trying to get him to leave an Atlanta-area mall. The indictment also says Young Thug rented a silver Infiniti sedan that was used in the killing of a rival gang member. And, on numerous occasions, he and others are alleged to have possessed various illegal drugs that they intended to distribute.

Who is on trial with Young Thug?

The other defendants still facing trial include Marquavius Huey, Deamonte Kendrick (known as Yak Gotti), Quamarvious Nichols, Rodalius Ryan and Shannon Stillwell.

The other defendants who have already pleaded guilty to various charges prior to jury selection include Gunna, whose given name is Sergio Kitchens; Young Thug's older brother, Quantavious Grier (Unfoonk); Trontavious Stephens (Tick); and Antonio Sledge (Mounk Tounk).

What is a mistrial? 

A mistrial occurs when a trial is rendered invalid due to a significant error or problem that prevents a fair conclusion. 

In the legal system, a fair trial is paramount, and a mistrial indicates that fairness may have been jeopardized. A mistrial can be declared under various circumstances, including juror bias, a hung jury unable to reach a unanimous verdict, procedural errors that could sway the trial's outcome, misconduct by any party involved, external interference, or health concerns of key participants. 

For the parties involved, the declaration of a mistrial results in pressing the reset button on the case. A retrial with a fresh jury might be scheduled, sometimes after renewed plea bargains, though in some cases the charges might be dismissed outright if a fair retrial isn't feasible. 

The implications of a mistrial are far-reaching. Not only does it potentially mean a return to square one, but it also brings additional costs and an emotional strain on everyone involved—from the legal teams to the witnesses and the accused.