The two rappers were among those charged in a sweeping gang indictment earlier this year, with prosecutors alleging the two high-profile defendants are involved in a crime syndicate in Atlanta.
Yesterday (October 17), Fulton County Judge Ural Glanville confirmed that the rappers’ case will go to trial on January 9, with lead prosecutor Adriane Love putting forth a list of around 300 witnesses.
Glanville denied a request prosecutors filed in October to delay the trial to March of next year, arguing that eight defendants still lacked lawyers. Young Thug’s lawyers criticised the request, writing in their own filing that it was “unjust” that the rapper “rots in the county jail” while waiting “on the appointment of counsel for co-indictees”.
“It has been too long to leave a human being in custody without trial, without discovery, without the statutory right to a speedy trial and without bond,” Thug’s lawyer wrote at the time.
Glanville agreed, saying that the defendants “deserve to have a right to go to trial.” His rejection of the delay was based on the fact that most of the defendants have not been granted bond since their arrest in May. The trial is expected to take between six to nine months.
Both Young Thug and Gunna have been denied bond on several occasions, which “weighs heavily on the court in terms of a start date for this trial,” Glanville said. Gunna’s last bond plea in October was denied on the basis that he posed a threat to, and could intimidate potential witnesses.
The rappers’ lawyers have consistently contested the charges since their arrest. In late-May, Gunna pleaded not guilty to the charges, with his legal team describing the RICO indictment as “intensely problematic” at the time.
Prior to that, Young Thug’s lawyer Brian Steel pleaded his client’s innocence, saying that the rapper “committed no crime whatsoever.” In June, Gunna released a statement saying he is “being falsely accused and will never stop fighting” to clear his name.
The trial centres around the YSL label founded by Thug and two others in 2016. Authorities claim that the label, to which Gunna is also signed, is a “criminal street gang”. The prosecution in the case has courted controversy for its reliance on YSL associates’ rap lyrics and social media posts as alleged “acts in furtherance of the conspiracy”.
Responding to that criticism in August, Fulton County district attorney Fanni Willis said that “if you decide to admit your crimes over a beat, I’m gonna use it.” Earlier this month, Young Thug and YSL were mentioned in an open letter urging the US legal system to restrict rap lyrics being used in trial evidence.
Elaborating on the trial date at yesterday’s proceedings, Glanville said “I know from historical trials of this nature, it’s going to take a while.” Young Thug’s lawyers filed several motions in relation to case, including a request to have the rapper’s indictment disposed due to prosecutorial misconduct.