PHILADELPHIA — The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled Wednesday that Meek Mill’s decade-old conviction on gun and drug charges should be vacated, the most significant step in the celebrity rapper’s long fight to overturn a case that even prosecutors have since conceded was riddled with problems.

The decision, issued in an 18-page opinion signed by President Judge Jack A. Panella, does not clear every hurdle for the Philadelphia-born Mill, 32, whose given name is Robert Rihmeek Williams. Technically, he is entitled to a new trial on those charges if the district attorney’s office decides to pursue them.

Meek Mill

A Pennsylvania appeals court has thrown out rapper Meek Mill’s decade-old conviction in a drug and gun case. The unanimous three-judge opinion Wednesday grants the rapper born Robert Williams a new trial because of new evidence of alleged police corruption. Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP

DA Larry Krasner’s office declined to say Wednesday whether it planned to retry Mill, but prosecutors made clear at a hearing earlier this month that they had significant questions about the credibility of Mill’s arresting officer, now-retired police officer Reginald Graham, and about the evidence used to convict Mill.

And the Superior Court, in its opinion, said that prosecutors had stated in court documents that they did not believe the trial testimony of Graham — the only witness to take the stand — and would “never again call Graham” to court.

Should prosecutors decline to pursue a retrial, Mill’s long entanglement with the Philadelphia criminal justice system would be over.

In a statement Wednesday, Mill said: “The past 11 years have been mentally and emotionally challenging, but I’m ecstatic that justice prevailed.” He also tweeted shortly after the opinion was issued: “Life blessings just keep coming.”

Mill and his legal team have been fighting to overturn his conviction since 2017, when he was ordered by Common Pleas Court Judge Genece E. Brinkley to serve two to four years in prison for probation violations.

His case generated widespread outcry from celebrities, fans and reform advocates who called it an example of a criminal justice system that needed to be changed. They directed particular scorn toward Brinkley, accusing her of ethical improprieties and seeking to have her removed from the case. Brinkley denied the allegations and defended her stewardship of the proceedings.

The Superior Court ruled Wednesday that the trial — should prosecutors seek one — would take place before a new judge. Cases sent back to lower courts for new proceedings are routinely assigned to new judges, the jurists wrote.

Brinkley has not commented on the case beyond what she has said in the courtroom and court documents. But her lawyer, A. Charles Peruto Jr., said Wednesday that she was comfortable with the appellate court’s decision and did not view it as a rebuke of her decision last year to deny Mill a new trial.

As for the allegations of bias against Mill — claims that Krasner’s office supported in court documents, citing her secretly visiting a homeless shelter where she had ordered Mill to serve food — Peruto said Brinkley’s critics have “never, ever presented a scintilla of credible evidence” to support that argument.

Mill has been free on bail while fighting his appeal, and has founded the REFORM Alliance, an organization dedicated to changing the criminal justice system.

One of his biggest supporters, 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin, said in a statement Wednesday: “Time after time, I’ve watched the criminal justice system railroad Meek, but through it all, he’s handled this adversity with extraordinary strength and poise.”

Rubin and Mill both said they would continue to pursue changes to the system.

Said Mill: “Unfortunately, millions of people are dealing with similar issues in our country and don’t have the resources to fight back like I did.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.