To 76ers partner Michael Rubin, who spent the last couple of years advocating for Meek Mill — the rapper incarcerated for probation violations until the state Supreme Court ordered him released — a recent Inquirer story about a man named Maurice Hudson sounded all too familiar.
Like Mill, Hudson had been on probation with Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Genece Brinkley for close to a decade. (Hudson’s conviction was for serving as a lookout in a 2009 robbery.) Like Mill, he hadn’t been convicted of a new crime. And, just like Mill, Brinkley sentenced him to state prison for probation violations — in Hudson’s case, a term of 1½ to three years for failing to pay off his court costs. Hudson, 29, who earned $600 a month as a janitor but was primarily a stay-at-home father of two special-needs daughters, said he just didn’t have the money.
So, on Oct. 15, Rubin made a payment of $2,148.59, settling Hudson’s debt to the court. And Jay-Z’s entertainment company Roc Nation, which manages Meek Mill, has dispatched lawyers to help in any way it can.
“Meek Mill’s judge just put him in prison for 18 to 36 months,” Rubin said in a video posted to Instagram. “He’s in prison for being poor. ... When you see something that’s disturbing like this, we cannot allow things like this to happen.”
Judges are permitted to sentence people for failing to meet court-ordered payments only if they find that a person has the means but is willfully refusing to pay. Brinkley concluded that Hudson was being willful because she had repeatedly ordered him to get a more lucrative, on-the-books job — a “paycheck job” — and he had not. But in court Hudson told her he was trying his best.
“I’m struggling out there in the streets,” he said.
Hudson’s lawyer, Cheryl Brooks, of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, filed another emergency petition for his release Wednesday — this time noting that the application for bail was unopposed by the District Attorney’s Office.
“It would be manifestly unjust,” she wrote in the petition, “for him to serve one more day of incarceration.”