A potential juror in the high-profile racketeering (RICO) trial of hip-hop recording artist Jeffery Williams, better known by his stage name, Young Thug, was held in contempt by the court and given a lengthy scolding by the judge overseeing the case early Monday afternoon.
“Why shouldn’t I hold you in contempt, sir?” Judge Ural Glanville asked. “Contempt is punishable by a fine of a thousand dollars and 20 days in jail. So, why – why shouldn’t I do that?”
The juror, whose voice was audible during the contempt hearing, said they were “just inquiring about the speed of the hardships.”
Glanville started to ask if that question went “against” something but he was quickly cut off by the juror who agreed that “it does.”
“I take full responsibility,” the male juror said.
CONTEMPT- Judge Glanville in the #YSL RICO trial finds a potential juror in contempt, this time for reaching out to a reporter. He’s ordered to 10 hrs of community service speaking about “behavior, choices and consequences AND must attend the first 5 days of trial. #YoungThug pic.twitter.com/SuZjuLODWz
— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) February 13, 2023
“The reason that I go through all these admonitions is I told you that we have actually had people do those in other trials,” the judge explained. “And that affects the fairness, lawfulness of the trial as to both sides. I mean that admonition that I went through with you all was probably about 15 – 10 minutes at least.”
The juror again agreed when asked by the judge if he had explained things correctly.
“So why would you think this would be okay for you to inquire about this?” ” the judge said.
To which the juror responded: “It was a dumb mistake on my part.”
Jury selection in the case against Young Thug has moved at a glacial pace. The lead defendant is the purported leader of the YSL gang. He is charged with eight violations of Georgia’s homegrown RICO statute but has several co-defendants who are also charged with various other crimes. Since their trials are being held together, however, each defendant has their own legal counsel who has the opportunity to lodge their own complaints.
And, while jury selection has been going since January, the case itself is anticipated to take at least half a year due to the sheer number of defendants, allegations, and defense attorneys involved.
The underlying issue prompting Monday’s contempt hearing was a direct message the juror sent to a reporter with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, asking for an update about the decidedly slow pace of jury selection. The reporter responded with basic information and the juror complained about having to return – having made it through the first round of voir dire without being struck from the jury pool.
Judge Glanville went on to explain that the would-be juror’s question also suggested he had been reading about the case – or had otherwise learned something about the case – through the media, which was in violation of another earlier order by the court.
“This is how we have hiccups in trials and we sometimes have to start over,” Glanville said, increasingly exasperated. “Because people don’t do what they’re supposed to do. So, I’m gonna find you in willful contempt.”
Ultimately, the potential juror was sentenced to 20 days in jail. That sentence was suspended by the court so long as the juror completes 10 hours of community service at a school, synagogue or church focused on “behavior, choices [and] consequences.” Additionally, the juror must attend the first five days of trial after a jury is empaneled.
He was stricken from the jury pool after the media outreach and contempt finding.
This isn’t the first time a potential juror has been held in contempt during the marathon jury selection process. That first potential juror was ordered by Glanville to pen a 30-page essay on the civic importance of jury duty and the history of anti-Black racism in the jury process in the Peach State. That order came after the would-be juror, who like the judge in the case is Black, admittedly traveled out of the country on a business trip and missed a day of jury duty.
“I didn’t really know I was in violation until the sheriff showed up,” she said. “I thought I was following directions.”
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