Philadelphia lawyer A. Charles Peruto Jr. has filed a lawsuit against Jay-Z's Roc Nation and Amazon.com Inc. regarding leaked comments that he says were surreptitiously recorded.
In newly filed court documents, Roc Nation says Peruto's suit is little more than an attempt to "prevent the disclosure" of unflattering comments Peruto made about his client Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Genece A. Brinkley, who is involved in a long-running case and dispute with the Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill.
In August 2017, Brinkley, who had overseen Mill's parole since he was released after five months in jail, barred Mill — who was convicted in 2008 of drugs and weapons offenses and simple assault — from performing outside Philadelphia or Montgomery County. On Nov. 6, 2017, Brinkley sentenced Mill to two to four years in prison for repeatedly violating his probation, and ordered that he be taken into custody immediately.
Brinkley's order was followed by filings by Mill's lawyers asking the judge to recuse herself from the case, and a public campaign calling for the rapper to be freed. The struggle between the judge and the rapper intensified after the Inquirer and Daily News reported in February that the arresting officer in the original 2008 drug and weapons case had been named in a secretly compiled list of Philadelphia police officers considered by the District Attorney's Office to have a history of lying, racial bias, or brutality.
On April 16, the District Attorney's Office said that Mill's conviction should be vacated and that he should be granted a new trial. Eight days later, the state Supreme Court ordered his release.
Earlier this year, Peruto participated in the filming of a Amazon Prime documentary series about Mill's time in the criminal justice system, according to a complaint filed by Peruto in September. Slated for a 2019 release, the project is being produced by Roc Nation, Amazon Digital Services, Amazon Prime Video, and the IPC Group, all named as defendants in Peruto's suit.
During production of the documentary series, Peruto, inadvertently speaking into a live microphone in an off-the-record segment that was recorded by the film crew, said he felt he was on the wrong side of justice in representing Brinkley. He also said Brinkley should have immediately granted the rapper a new trial after prosecutors requested it. He also said Brinkley looked "awful" after putting Mill behind bars.
That interview, despite being off the record, became public in July when the audio was leaked to the Inquirer and Daily News by a "Mill supporter."
Peruto claims that the defendants violated Pennsylvania's Wiretap Act, which requires both parties in a conversation to consent to recording. Peruto asked a Philadelphia court to order the defendants to destroy all copies of the recording, and to return to him the original "illegally intercepted oral communication."
"The lawsuit is an effort to prevent the disclosure of statements plaintiff made criticizing his client, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
e Judge Genece Brinkley, over her handling of criminal proceedings involving Robert Rihmeek Williams [Mill's legal name]," attorneys for Roc Nation and Amazon said in a new filing, "and to squelch further reporting about his critical comments regarding his client."
Roc Nation added that the leaked recording of Peruto's comments "demonstrates that plaintiff neither asked to go off the record nor instructed the interviewer to stop recording." As such, the defense argues, Peruto "filed this lawsuit in an effort to block dissemination and broadcast of his statements criticizing Judge Brinkley."
Currently, attorneys for Roc Nation and Amazon want the case moved to federal court.