Judge Glanville Lacks Emotional Maturity for High-Profile Case

“Young Thug” Trial Getting the Best of Veteran Judge

Front Row from left to right: Attorney Keith Adams, Jeffery “Young Thug” Williams, Attorney Brain Steel. The second row, behind Williams, Attorney Max Schart, and Shannon Stillwell. (c) 2024 Cascade Publishing House

On January 10, 2024, with my tongue firmly tucked in my right cheek, I opined in these pages that Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville deployed “Colored People Time” in his approach to managing the RICO prosecution of millionaire rapper Jeffery “Young Thug” Williams.

The group chats on practically every media outlet that live streams the “Young Thug” court proceedings are replete with complaints about the delays, comfort breaks, recesses, and breaks so Glanville can take care of ministerial duties, including breaks several days and weeks at a time, and a late start one day so a juror could appear at a job interview for a job that she could not possibly be free from jury duty to start until sometime in mid-2025 –  if she is lucky, albeit, the job has to be available in one year.  

There have been times when the State has been on a roll laying out how seemingly unrelated events all tie into their RICO prosecution and times when a defense counsel has been cross-examining a witness and bringing out some angle the State failed to pursue in their investigation. Glanville will recess court for the day, leaving the state imagery in limbo or killing the momentum of a defense counsel, “cooking,” as they say on the live stream chats, on behalf of their clients.

Glanville Got Off To A Bad Start

As I stated in my previous piece, this is no way to try a court case of any magnitude, and certainly not a case where the State at the outset announced that they plan to call more than 700 witnesses. That number, over time, was whittled down to 100 to 200 witnesses by the State. Nevertheless, under the best circumstances, it takes time to manage the testimony of 200 witnesses.

The lay State’s witnesses are problematic. The fact that many of the State’s witnesses were involved in some criminal activity in the Cleveland Avenue community, which reputedly is ground zero for the alleged RICO activity on trial, compounds the problem. The witness has to testify in court in front of “Young Thug” and his YSL gang members and co-defendants about what was said when they snitched to get out of jail or a lengthy prison sentence, not to mention testifying in front of gang members and gang sympathizers live streaming the proceedings.

State witnesses have denied knowledge of events when they defended charges in the early to mid-2010s, which serves as the gravamen of the State’s RICO charges in the “Young Thug” prosecution. State witnesses have even denied recognizing their voices on audio recordings when they informed on fellow gang members.

One witness denied knowing his wife’s voice on a recorded telephone call from the County Jail on Rice Street. Fear guides the witnesses’ memory loss and ability to recall seminal events in their young lives. One witness from the state prison stated, “I don’t have anything to do with this. I want to go back to prison. Take me back to prison now!”

The State’s case is like pulling teeth. It’s painstaking but indispensable to lay out an organized scheme to rob, kill, and intimidate a criminal community into turning over the spoils of their illegal enterprises. At least this is the theme that has emerged thus far in the State’s presentation, that “Young Thug” allegedly preyed on drug dealers who he knew had made a large sum of money and, through intimidation, would be afraid to stand up to the gang.

The lawyering on both sides is intense and borders on excellent. Senior Deputy District Attorney Adrianne Love is taking the fight to “Young Thug” and his friends, going toe to toe with defense counsels and Judge Glanville. On several occasions, Glanville has told Ms. Love to sit down. Glanville frustratedly said to Love this week, “Are you going to stand there and continue to argue with me?”

Could Glanville’s Administrative Order Cause the State to Lose this Prosecution?

Two days later, Glanville ruled that Love could not present evidence from a jail interview and a PowerPoint presentation because it did not comply with his administrative order for timeliness. Glanville told Love before the entire media streaming world that she was unprepared and deserved to have her critical evidence omitted from the trial. The problem with Glanville’s ruling is that should the State lose this case; it cannot appeal the exclusion of this evidence, similar to how the defense can appeal the court’s exclusion of evidence that may be favorable to their clients.

Glanville’s ire focuses on Ms. Love, but not exclusively. Several weeks ago, Glanville yelled at “Young Thug’s” lawyer, Brian Steel, in front of the jury and told Steel, with the jury in the box, that he was unprepared. Steel took unbridled issue with Glanville and, professionally, dressed down the court for daring to embarrass him in front of the jury. Steel’s explosion led to Glanville taking more control for moving the trial along at a faster clip and the rationale for issuing his administration order.

Since Steel’s chastisement, Glanville has failed to accept responsibility for the chaotic RICO trial management and has blamed the lawyers on both sides of this issue for a slow-moving trial.

Often, Glanville threatened to resort to Saturday court to move the trial along faster. A measure that should have been in place from the “git go.” One of the defense attorneys will soon find the courage to take Glanville up on his threat.

Shannon Stillwell, sometimes known as Shannon Jackson, is represented by Max Schart, a capable criminal defense attorney who pays attention to details. The problem is Glanville does not like it when Schart focuses on a crucial element of his client’s defense. No matter when Schart brings an issue to Glanville’s attention, Glanville responds, “Why did you not raise this issue before now? How long have you known about this? You could have filed this motion two years ago.”

Once Glanville pressed Schart to answer his obvious, rhetorical questions, Schart replied: “Your Honor, you would not like my answer, so I am going to keep quiet.”

It does not matter to Glanville the prejudicial effect denying Schart’s motion on administrative, procedural grounds will have on Mr. Stillwell’s search for a fair trial.

In the mid-1990s, when Glanville was a new Magistrate Court Judge, a colleague suggested he undergo a stress test. The idea is that a stress test could reveal how much stress you could take before blowing your top, which would make for a calmer and more reasonable jurist on the bench. Following the stress test, Glanville gleefully talked about his surprise at how quickly he reached the edge.

Perhaps it is time to revisit those test results or undergo another stress test. Glanville has lost control of this trial, and no amount of administrative orders will return that control to him.

Should this case lead to a conviction of any of the defendants, are the seeds for overturning the conviction planted in how Glanville manages this trial?

Brian Steel knows it will, and so does Jeffery “Young Thug” Williams.

Harold Michael Harvey, JD, is the Living Now 2020 Bronze Medal winner for his memoir Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. He is the author of a book on Negro Leagues Baseball, The Duke of 18th & Vine: Bob Kendrick Pitches Negro Leagues Baseball. He writes feature stories for Black College Nines. Com. Harvey is a member of the Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, HBCU and PRO Sports Media Association, and the Legends Committee for the National College Baseball Hall of Fame. Harvey is an engaging speaker. Contact Harvey at hmharvey@haroldmichaelharvey.com.


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Published by Michael

Harold Michael Harvey is a Past President of The Gate City Bar Association and is the recipient of the Association’s R. E. Thomas Civil Rights Award. He is the author of Paper Puzzle and Justice in the Round: Essays on the American Jury System, and a two-time winner of Allvoices’ Political Pundit Prize. His work has appeared in Facing South, The Atlanta Business Journal, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine, Black Colleges Nines, and Medium.

2 replies on “Judge Glanville Lacks Emotional Maturity for High-Profile Case”

  1. Harold, thanks for your observation and feedback regarding this trial. I felt like I was in court viewing.

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