Young Thug's lawyer held in contempt, arrested after claims of 'secret' meeting

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Tuesday, June 11, 2024
Young Thug's lawyer held in contempt, arrested during RICO trial
More drama unfolded in the YSL RICO trial as Young Thug Lawyer Brian Steel was arrested and held in contempt.

ATLANTA -- More drama unfolded in the YSL RICO trial against rapper Young Thug and his co-defendants Monday as police arrested one of the rapper's attorneys and charged him with contempt of court.

WSB's Michael Seiden was in the courtroom when Brian Steel was taken into custody after he refused requests to answer how he heard about a "secret" meeting between prosecutors, the judge and a key witness in the YSL trial, Kenneth Copeland, on Monday morning.

Judge Ural Glanville gave Steel until 5 p.m. to disclose the source of information about the meeting, arguing that Steel wasn't supposed to have any communication with a state witness sworn to testify.

SEE ALSO | Young Thug rap lyrics used as alleged evidence in YSL gang indictment

Despite facing a contempt charge, Steel refused to reveal his source, citing client-attorney privilege.

Video showed Steel take off his jacket before he's taken into custody.

Copeland spent the weekend in jail after he refused to testify on Friday. He reluctantly took the stand Monday but evaded much of the questioning.

After a lunch break, Steel claimed that prosecutors told Copeland that he could remain in jail for the duration of the trial and possibly until all 26 defendants' cases are resolved.

"If that's true, it's coercion and witness intimidation," Steel said.

READ MORE | 'Protect Black art': How the indictment of Young Thug, Gunna sparked a movement

Young Thug's second attorney, Keith Adams, also moved for a mistrial.

"Okay, and the challenge I'm having in this particular circumstance -- this is such a violation of the sacrosanctness of the court's chambers and an ex parte conversation. You're glossing over that in its entirety," Adams said.

Max Schardt, an attorney for co-defendant Shannon Stillwell, also said the judge held a meeting with prosecutors and Copeland without his client being present. Schardt said the trial needs to be halted until they can get a transcript of the meeting. He also called for a mistrial.

Glanville denied the motions. He has since returned to the bench.

This latest incident adds to the courtroom drama seen during the trial. In February, police arrested one of the defendants' lawyers on gang charges. Another attorney was handcuffed for bringing prescription medication into the courtroom, while another had his laptop seized in the middle of court. Nearly every public defender threatened to leave the case, citing insufficient pay.