The lawyer representing Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Genece Brinkley says the judge in the Meek Mill case should have immediately granted the rapper a new trial after prosecutors requested it.
Inadvertently speaking into a live microphone after he was interviewed recently by a documentary film crew, attorney A. Charles Peruto Jr. said he felt he was on the wrong side of justice in representing Brinkley, who has presided over Mill's case for more than a decade despite appeals seeking her recusal.
If he were the judge in this case, he would have granted a new trial, he says on the tape. "Prosecution and defense agree — goodbye."
"She looks f—ing awful," Peruto can be heard saying.
The Inquirer and Daily News listened to the audiotape, which was shared by a Mill supporter.
Peruto said Tuesday he had made no "on-the-record" derogatory comments about Brinkley. "I have been consistent with my defense of this judge," Peruto said in an interview. "Tape or no tape, I don't believe I said it."
"If I said something off the record, it should not be on the transcript," Peruto said. He insisted that reporters should only quote from the on-the-record transcript of an interview he had with a journalist working on a documentary for Amazon about the Philadelphia justice system.
Amazon is collaborating on the documentary with Roc Nation, Mill's management company.
The Amazon team also has interviewed reporters from the Inquirer and Daily News about Philadelphia's criminal justice system.
For months, Mill's supporters and lawyers have sought to discredit Brinkley in a public campaign challenging her credibility and competency. Mill and his lawyers have asked the courts to throw out his decade-old drug and gun convictions because of credibility issues surrounding the Philadelphia police officer who testified against him.
It is not unusual for some people to make on-the-record statements meant for the public and then make off-the-record comments to reporters, sometimes providing valuable tips or even indicating that their public statements do not provide the whole truth.
The Amazon interview took place shortly before Supervising Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker issued a decision May 30 that he could not order Brinkley removed from the case
, as Mill's defense team had requested.
After Tucker's decision, Brinkley ruled June 25 that she would not grant a new trial to Mill, whose given name is Robert Rihmeek Williams.
In her 47-page decision, Brinkley said Mill did not meet the legal requirement for a new trial for gun and drug convictions in 2008. Brinkley has repeatedly found that he violated his probation, and sentenced him to prison last fall. The state Supreme Court later ruled that he should be released on bail.
Mill's petition for a new trial is based on District Attorney Larry Krasner's decision that the arresting officer in the Mill case, Reginald Graham, had credibility problems.
According to internal police documents, Graham was ordered to be fired last year after the Internal Affairs unit learned he admitted to the FBI that he lied about never taking money from a drug bust. One of his former partners had told the FBI that he and Graham stole money during a 2005 raid. Graham, who resigned last year before his planned firing, has declined to comment on the Internal Affairs findings.
In her decision, Brinkley questioned the district attorney's decision to brand Graham as having credibility problems. She said the prosecutor's decision did not require her to rule in favor of Mill. She said she needed to make her own decision.
"Ultimately, the allegations of misconduct related to Officer Graham do not relate to the facts of [Mill's] case … and do not create a question of credibility for [Mill's] underlying trial and arrest," Brinkley wrote.
In Peruto's comments caught on the recording, he also questioned Brinkley's repeated filing of civil lawsuits. In one filed shortly before the interview, Brinkley sued two people who were involved in an accident with her at a Caribbean resort.
Peruto said it was the 23rd lawsuit she had filed in five years.
The lawsuits ranged from eviction cases against former tenants to a suit against the luxury Hershey Hotel, in which she said she suffered serious trauma after she discovered a hotel worker's badge in her bed. She said she suffered troubling memories of the incidents for months.
Brinkley, through her lawyer, Peruto, has declined to comment on the case, citing judicial rules.