Meek Mill’s 2008 Conviction Is Thrown Out by a Pennsylvania Judge

Free Meek Mill protest in 2017
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Free Meek Mill protest in 2017
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Free Meek Mill protest in 2017

Meek Mill’s controversial 2008 conviction on drug and weapons charges has been tossed by a Superior Court judge in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Jack A. Panella nullified the conviction in an 18-page decision issued this morning (July 24th).  Panella sharply questioned the evidence surrounding the conviction, as well as the credibility of the arresting officer.

The decision to vacate the conviction doesn’t completely exonerate Meek Mill, but it’s certainly a victory.  The rapper, whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, has been battling legal complications stemming from his 2008 arrest and subsequent conviction on drugs and weapons charges.

Since the arrest, serious questions about the arresting officer and criminal evidence have surfaced, raising questions over whether justice was really served.  Many observers felt these issues were grossly overlooked or buried by the prosecuting District Attorney’s Office.

“The past 11 years have been mentally and emotionally challenging, but I’m ecstatic that justice prevailed,” Meek Mill stated briefly this morning.

The rapper also alerted fans to the development on Twitter.

At this stage, it’s unclear if the office of District Attorney Larry Krasner will refile the case.  If the DA does refile, the case will essentially be restarted at zero, given that the previous decision has been vacated.  Otherwise, Meek Mill is cleared of not only the charges stemming from the 2008 arrest, but also subsequent parole issues that are based on that conviction.

The court decision comes alongside a major deal with Jay-Z and Roc Nation.

The deal calls for the revitalization Dream Chasers Records, which will now fall under the Roc Nation umbrella.  Jay-Z, who founded Roc Nation in 2008, has been a longtime advocate for Meek Mill and broader reforms to the criminal justice system.  This morning, the pair unveiled the latest stage of their partnership in Manhattan.

Dream Chasers was actually minted in 2012, and initially part of the Rick Ross-owned Maybach Music Group.  The transition follows a period of relative inactivity, with Meek Mill now continuing the imprint to scout and develop newer talent.

“We come from the same neighborhoods, we are the few who made it through,” Jay-Z said during the official announcement event.  “That responsibility is not lost on us. We have not made it to this point to just irresponsibly live our life. It’s a responsibility we have to the entire culture.”

Earlier, Jay-Z penned an extensive op-ed in the New York Times about the shackling impact of parole on young, economically-disadvantaged African-Americans.  Jay-Z’s broader activism has also spread into causes for other victims of wrongful incarceration, including Kalief Browder.  The Bronx-based Browder killed himself in 2015 after suffering three years of extremely violent incarceration at Rikers Island for stealing a backpack — a charge that was ultimately dismissed.

76ers co-owner Michael Rubin, a longtime Meek Mill supporter, also chimed in. “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 stated.