A “secret list” assembled by the District Attorney’s Office that identifies roughly two dozen Philly cops known to have a history of “lying, racial bias, or brutality,” as reported Tuesday morning by PMN, could potentially add a new wrinkle to the legal saga of Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill.
According to sources not named in the article, the now-retired police officer who arrested Mill back in 2007, Reginald V. Graham, is one of the persons named on the list.
Why Graham is on the list — which was compiled by a special Police Misconduct Review Committee under former D.A. Seth Williams, and reportedly intended as “a guide to determine when a potentially tainted officer’s testimony should be used” — is unclear.
But the details of Graham inclusion could be vital to Mill’s chance for a future retrial.
Meek Mill (whose full name is Robert Rihmeek Williams) has already been denied an appeal to his conviction, but “[a]ppellate lawyers for Mill were never told of the list or that Graham was on it,” the PMN article says.
Now that they’re aware of this secret list, and Graham’s placement on it, Mill’s attorneys may feel empowered to file a Post-Conviction Relief Act petition, according to Marni Jo Snyder, a criminal defense attorney in Center City.
A PCRA petition is basically an indirect means for individuals to challenge their convictions. Among the circumstances under which a PCRA petition might be filed is when “you find out evidence after the fact that would have made the fact finder see the case differently,” Snyder explained. “This bad cop stuff kind of falls into that realm,” she said. (Graham testified at Mill’s trial.)
Once the PCRA petition is filed, due process dictates that the city produce whatever information might be relevant to the case, legal experts told Billy Penn. In this case, that would be any prior complaints against Graham, including reports of misconduct or instances when he was found to be less than credible.
The catch here is that the PCRA would have to be filed with the trial judge — Common Pleas Judge Genece Brinkley.
Meek Mill supporters have accused Brinkley of mishandling the case and being biased against the rapper, and his lawyers are trying to force her recusal. During sentencing in November, Brinkley told Mills, “I gave you break after break, and you basically just thumbed your nose at this court.”
On that day, Mill, a 30-year-old native of Philadelphia, was sentenced to two to four years in state prison by Brinkley, for violating his probation. The sentencing ignited national outrage, with many — from Jay Z to an Olympic snowboarder from Slovenia — joining the “Free Meek” campaign and condemning the sentencing as excessive.
Given the chance to grant or deny the PCRA petition, Judge Brinkley would likely lean toward denying it, per defense attorney Snyder. If so, Mills’ lawyers could appeal the decision, Snyder said.
Mill’s lawyers have not specifically indicated whether they will file a PCRA petition, and have not yet responded to Billy Penn’s request for comment. However, late Tuesday Mill attorney Joe Tacopina told Complex he intends to pursue “all legal remedies.”