YSL trial: Bizarre circumstances delay jury selection

Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Ural Glanville points during the Jury selection portion of the trial that continues on Monday, Feb 13, 2023.  Miguel Martinez / miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Ural Glanville points during the Jury selection portion of the trial that continues on Monday, Feb 13, 2023. Miguel Martinez / miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

More than three months after jury selection began, not a single juror has been seated in the sweeping gang case against Atlanta rapper Young Thug and his alleged associates. At least three jurors have been scolded by the judge for various infractions, several of the 14 defendants have been involved in incidents ranging from scuffles to an alleged drug transaction and a number of appointed lawyers have complained about the “egregiously low” pay they’re earning.

“To be honest, I could make more money working at Chick-fil-A as a cashier,” said Justin Hill, one of the attorneys appointed by the Georgia Public Defender Council. They are being paid $15,000 each regardless of how long the trial takes.

It could take six to nine months once the jury is seated and it’s not clear when that could happen. A seventh group of potential jurors is scheduled to report in May.

Here’s a look at some of the incidents that have happened so far.

Jury issues

Several potential jurors have stood in front of Fulton County Chief Judge Ural Glanville after being held in contempt of court. One was ordered to write a 30-page essay after she traveled to the Dominican Republic instead of of returning to court.

Another was reprimanded for messaging a reporter after the judge explicitly instructed prospective jurors not to follow the case in the media or discuss it with anyone. Once the trial does get underway, the juror must spend the first five days in the courtroom and complete 10 hours of community service, the judge ordered.

A third was handcuffed in court after Glanville said she willfully violated his instructions by filming court proceedings with her phone. She spent about five hours in custody at the courthouse before apologizing and saying she’d learned an important lesson.

Defendant issues

On Jan. 18, defendant Kahlieff Adams allegedly walked up to Young Thug and handed him a prescription painkiller in open court, authorities said. Prosecutors said Adams was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital after ingesting some of the contraband, while defense attorneys said deputies used a Taser on Adams in a back room. Glanville had to postpone court for the day as a result.

Defendant Rodalius Ryan scuffled with a Fulton County deputy in late January before being brought to the courthouse. That incident delayed proceedings for most of the morning.

At a hearing held earlier this month, defendant Jayden Myrick asked to represent himself and told the judge he was receiving legal help from President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff. Glanville ordered a mental evaluation to determine whether Myrick is competent to stand trial.

In addition, a leaked interrogation video considered evidence in the case amassed millions of views when it was posted online. Glanville ordered an investigation into the source of the leak.

Attorney issues

Attorney Angela D’Williams filed a motion asking to withdraw from the case over “egregiously low” trial wages. Hill, Suri Chadha Jimenez and Eric Johnson have requested an increase in pay.

The attorneys received an initial payment of $7,500 when they first joined the case and a subsequent $7,500 payment, compensation they argue is insufficient.

Glanville also has to determine whether attorneys Nicole Fegan and Teombre Calland can remain on the case after prosecutors filed a motion seeking to sever their clients after learning the attorneys are pregnant. Both women have said they want to remain on the case and asked Glanville to wait until late April before deciding.

What’s next?

More than 1,200 potential jurors have been summoned since jury selection began Jan. 4. The process is expected to continue into the summer with a sixth group of about 300 jurors reporting on April 28 and a seventh group scheduled to report in May.

Glanville has said he plans to spend the next two weeks hearing motions including demands for bonds, speedy trial, motions related to evidence and the use of lyrics.