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What’s Tea? The Indefinite Suspension of the Young Thug YSL Trial

What led to the suspension of the trial, and what are the key moments of this trial?

Young Thug in court
Young Thug, real name Jeffery Lamar Williams, found himself in an almost two-year long trial due to his possible connection to the YSL gang in Atlanta (Photo Courtesy: Arvin Temkar/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS/ABACA/Reuters)

The trial surrounding Grammy Award-winning rapper Young Thug has been indefinitely suspended following 18 months of many head scratching moments.

The rapper faces charges for allegedly co-founding and leading a criminal street gang responsible for violent acts dating back 10 years. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has brought these allegations to court, leading to the high-profile trial. Prosecutors claim YSL stands for the artist’s label, Young Stoner Life Records, as well as Young Slime Life — a gang based in Atlanta with affiliation with the national Bloods gang.

Young Thug, real name Jeffery Lamar Williams, was charged alongside 27 other people under the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act — commonly known as RICO. Many of those 27 people took plea deals, notably Gunna and Williams’ older brother.

In court documents, prosecutors claimed to have evidence of Williams being a violent gang leader. Some of the evidence includes:

  • Williams threatening to shoot a security guard in the face

  • He flashed the gang’s alleged hand signal many times, including in various social media posts

  • He rapped about the criminal group in some of his songs

Prosecution also alleged that members of the gang discussed getting Williams’ permission to kill fellow rapper YFN Lucci, the alleged leader of a rival street gang. Williams’ defense attorney vehemently denied the accusations, pointing to a different side of the rapper’s life.

In a 2023 bond hearing, a media executive and longtime friend of the rapper said Williams was “put here to change the people around him.” A 15-year-old boy testified that the rapper tutored him, took him on his tours, and urged him to stay away from crime and drugs. 

As the trial dragged on, the trial’s lead attorney, Brian Steel, was recently found in criminal contempt and sentenced to 20 days in jail. Steel’s outburst following his contempt charge included claims of improper conduct between the judge, prosecution and a key witness, the Source Magazine reports.

“That is crazy! This is like communist Russia,” Steel said in court.

Last week, on July 1, Judge Ural Glanville of the Fulton County Superior Court suspended the trial indefinitely. This decision comes after many defendants accused Glanville of misconduct and requested his recusal. Another judge had to review the allegations, and the prosecution had until Monday to respond.

Williams’ co-defendant Deamonte Kendrick not only seeks to disqualify Judge Glanville, but also any judge within the Fulton County Superior Court from presiding over the recusal request. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Rachel Krause would later reject this motion.

“It is inappropriate for any trial court judge to preside in any action wherein one of the parties holds a judicial office on the same or any other court which sits in the same circuit,” the motion read.

On Tuesday, Steel submitted a supplement to the initial motion he filed last month to remove Judge Glanville from  the case. In the original motion, Steel requested for Glanville to step down after he and prosecutors reportedly conducted a meeting with witness Kenneth “Woody” Copeland without Steel or any other defense lawyer present.

The supplement notes that Judge Glanville donated $2,000 to Judge Krause during her re-election campaign, according to Legal Affairs and Trials with Meghann Cuniff

“The Georgia Supreme Court has held that the mere fact of a campaign to a judge — even from a party to the case — does warrant recusal where the contribution was not exceptionally large,” Judge Krause said via an order in response to the claim made in Steel’s supplement.

The trial began with jury selection in January 2023 and could go into 2026. Williams has been in jail without bail since his May 2022 arrest. 


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