Young Thug case: Juror detained for hours after filming court proceedings

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

A prospective juror in the case against Atlanta rapper Young Thug and his alleged associates spent about five hours in custody after the judge scolded her for filming court proceedings on her cellphone.

Juror 1004 had initially been sentenced to three days in jail and was led away in handcuffs Monday morning after Chief Judge Ural Glanville said she willfully violated the instructions he gave last month at the Fulton County Courthouse

After a receiving a stern reprimand and apologizing, the 21-year-old was allowed to leave about 3:30 p.m.

It was initially believed she had live-streamed court proceedings on March 17, but she said she recorded a video and then quickly deleted it.

“It wasn’t livestreamed at all,” the potential juror told the judge at her contempt hearing. “I did take a video and then the young lady next to me said I couldn’t do that.”

Juror 1004′s cellphone was confiscated by deputies, who found the video clip in her “recently deleted” folder. She told the judge it was her first time being summoned for jury duty and she didn’t realize she wasn’t allowed to film.

Glanville noted he gives potential jurors a lengthy list of what he calls “ad nauseum admonitions” governing their conduct inside his courtroom.

“I went through a very long and arduous process of telling people what they could not do and you violated that,” he told the juror. “And you put this trial in jeopardy by doing that.”

The young woman seemed shocked Monday morning when Glanville told her she would have to spend 72 hours behind bars. She was handcuffed in front of the 14 defendants and their attorneys before being led away by deputies.

She was brought back into the courtroom at the end of the day’s proceedings and asked if she’d had time to reflect on her punishment.

“I do apologize for the actions that I took and it won’t happen again,” Juror 1004 told the judge.

Glanville tried turning the experience into a life lesson, telling the woman it’s important to follow the rules.

“Judges, despite what people think, don’t like to send folks to jail,” Glanville told her. “You can’t come into a place, break the rules and expect there to be no consequences.”

He also said he would speak to the jury clerk and try to have the woman assigned to a separate case in the coming months.

The incident involving the juror is the latest hiccup in a lengthy process that’s been repeatedly slowed by wayward jurors, leaked evidence and even drugs inside the courtroom.

Earlier this year, a potential juror who traveled to the Dominican Republic instead of returning to court was ordered to write a 30-page research paper on the importance of jury service. Another man got in trouble for messaging a reporter about the jury selection process despite being told not to read about the case or discuss it with anyone.

Jury selection was also delayed a full day in January when defendant Kahlieff Adams allegedly walked up to Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffrey Williams, and handed him a prescription painkiller in open court. There have also been dust-ups between Glanville and defense attorneys who were late for court or got up to use the restroom without permission.

Selecting a jury for the lengthy gang trial has proven to be a daunting task, with most saying they can’t afford to miss nearly a year of work to serve on the high-profile case. Many have said they won’t be able to pay for their homes or take care of loved ones if chosen.

The selection process formally began on Jan. 4. Three months later, about 1,200 potential jurors have been summoned but not a single person has been seated.

Prosecutors say the Grammy Award-winning Williams is the leader of a southwest Atlanta gang known as Young Slime Life or YSL. The state alleges the group is responsible for much of the city’s violence, including targeted shootings and drug deals.

Defense attorneys strongly contest the charges, saying YSL stands for Young Stoner Life and is simply the name of Williams’ record label.

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

The jury hardship process could take at least two more months, with a sixth group of about 300 jurors reporting on April 28 and a seventh group scheduled to report in May.

Eventually, prosecutors and defense attorneys will start asking potential jurors their thoughts on gangs and hip-hop, and whether they feel they can remain impartial at trial.