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Young Thug Trial Judge Hands out Homework​

By Vaidehi Mehta, Esq. | Last updated on

There's been a fun twist in the way judges are dealing with contempt of court, and it comes amidst a legal controversy surrounding the rap music scene in Atlanta: the criminal prosecution of the infamous artist, Jeffery Lamar Williams.

"Who?" Okay, Williams is better known—maybe ​only​ known—by his stage name, Young Thug.

The Racketeering Rapper

Young Thug has been on the rap and hip hop scene for over a decade, and is the artist behind many ​Billboard chart-topping songs, including "Hot." You might also know him from his features on other artist's hits, such as Camila Cabello's "Havana." Thug has also collaborated with number of major artists, such as Chris Brown in "Go Crazy" and Childish Gambino in "This is America." The latter track won the 2019 Grammy Award for Song of the Year and Record of the Year, and was the first hip hop track to win either of these categories in 61 years.

The now not-so-young 31-year-old has been charged in Georgia with multiple counts of violating the RICO Act, as well as with multiple counts of firearms and narcotics possession. Fulton County police records indicate that Thug has also been charged with conspiracy, under Georgia's "Conspiracy to Violate the Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organizations Act."

One of 14 defendants named in the indictment, Young Thug is accused of organizing a street gang under the guise of his record label, Young Stoner Life (usually shortened to "YSL"). Facing 55 different charges, all his co-defendants are affiliated with the label/gang. The charges range in severity, from hijacking a motor vehicle to attempted murder to assault with a deadly weapon to various forms of theft.

Expected to take a year to complete, the trial will feature over 300 witnesses, the prosecution has said. Several of the original co-defendants have taken plea deals and will no longer be tried alongside the rapper. 

Eccentric Judge Likes to Give Homework

While you'd think the famous defendant would continue to monopolize the media's attention, the judge in the trial has actually been making some major headlines. Judge Ural Glanville of Fulton County, Georgia, has been known to dish out the whackiest penalties for contempt of court. Now, Young Thug's criminal defense attorney finds himself on the wrong side of this eccentric judge. 

In April, Judge Glanville assigned Thug's attorney, Eric Johnson, a 17-page writing assignment, as an alternative to spending time in jail or paying a fine for being held in contempt of court. The judge instructed Johnson to title his essay, "The Importance of Professionalism in the Legal Field and Treating One's Opponents with Civility." Judge Glanville demanded that the paper be completed by April 28, further requiring that the assignment be executed as a scholarly work suitable for a law journal. Amongst the requirements were that the assignment feature 10 primary and 10 secondary sources.

Johnson wasn't the first person in the Thug case to be given homework. During jury selection months ago, a juror that failed to appear following a summons received a similar assignment—a 30-page paper on the importance of jury duty. Reporter Shaddi Abusaid of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: wrote about the penalty levied upon the jury-dodger: "Glanville wants it APA style with 10 primary sources and 10 secondary sources. [The absent juror] come[s] back on Feb. 13 to discuss her essay. Wild."

In her defense, the woman, known to the public only as "Juror 64," claimed she notified jury service of her plans to travel to the Dominican Republic on a business trip. But the judge wasn't satisfied. And so now, like Thug's attorneys, she must also execute an academic work, or face time in jail or a fine.

But essay assignments aren't the only weird punishments Judge Glanville likes to hand out. After another one of Thug's defense attorneys, Suri Chadha Jimenez, was a few minutes late to a court proceeding, he was also held in contempt. This time, the judge ordered the culprit to "purchase lunch for each of [his] attorney colleagues . . . from Jason's Deli." Jiminez did end up buying the court lunch, but it was wings from an iconic local strip club. Quite a deviation from subs.

Guess all three of these guys will think twice before slacking in Judge Glanville's courtroom again.

Contempt of Court

All of these bizarre punishments were given for "contempt of court." You might have heard of this principle, but what exactly is it?

It is believed that, in the interest of a fair, just, and efficient legal system, order and process must be maintained and observed in court rooms and during legal proceedings. To that end, a judge may hand down penalties upon anyone at trial deemed to be unruly or who has violated or interfered with legal procedure. Known as "being held in contempt of court," such offenses almost always entail fines or brief periods in jail. 

While the judge in Thug's case only took issue with the non-appearance of the juror and claimed unruliness on the part of the rapper's defense attorney, a person may also be held in contempt of court for other reasons, including refusal to yield subpoenaed evidence or refusal to provide testimony. So, why has Judge Glanville himself deviated from procedure by handing down penalties that are quite academic and unorthodox? We don't know, but it certainly brings some much-needed entertainment in what are usually pretty dry court proceedings. 

To learn more about laws and legal issues related to what is at stake in the case of Young Thug, review FindLaw's Learn About the Law pages:

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