Drama consuming the Young Thug trial reached new heights as some jurors’ faces were exposed on a livestream from the courtroom.
Rapper Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, has spent the week in court in Fulton County, Georgia, fighting gang and racketeering charges in connection with what prosecutors say is a violent street gang he co-founded called Young Slime Life (YSL).
During the third day of the trial on Wednesday, a camera mistakenly panned across the jury panel as a witness made their way to the stand to testify. Screenshots of the footage, in which parts of at least two of the jurors’ faces are shown, inevitably spread like wildfire online.
The incident prompted a lengthy delay of proceedings along with fears that a mistrial would ensue — after a grueling 11 months of jury selection, no less. But that didn’t happen.
Instead, Judge Ural Glanville instructed members of the media in the courtroom to stop filming the expert witness, an Atlanta Police detective, “due to some security issues” relating to the “inadvertent recording of some of our jurors in the front row.”
At the start of Thursday’s proceedings, Judge Glanville opened by reminding the media: “Please make sure that you do not take any photos…of any of our jurors. We had a problem with that yesterday.” He acknowledged that yesterday’s incident “wasn’t intentional.”
Not long after the first witness of the day was called up to the stand, the court broke for recess and attorneys met with the judge privately.
Both parties returned to their seats and the judge then said, “I believe that we’ve addressed that issue yesterday with the request to be more mindful of the placement of cameras.”
But a prosecutor stood up, pointing out that after talking to the media in court last night, “the state has been made aware that this particular post has been shared a number of times and it is of concern for the integrity of this case.”
“That’s in your pleas,” Judge Glanville said, adding, “If you make it an issue, then I think you draw attention when you may not necessarily need to.”
“It’s very possible” that jurors may have been contacted by family members or friends that “may impair their ability to be fair,” the prosecutor continued.
“I’m not gonna weird them out and that’s the last I’ll say about it at this point in time,” the judge said.
The screenshot circulating on social media captured the jurors’ faces as Detective Mark Belknap passed the jurors on his way to the stand.
It’s unclear who was behind the camera when the slip-up occurred. Although Law & Crime’s watermark was on screenshots circulated online, an executive producer took to X to clear the network’s name.
“For the record (because I’ve had so many comments) it was not Law&Crime’s camera in the YSL courtroom today,” Cathy Russon wrote. “We had no control over anything that was shown. We took our stream down as soon as we were alerted that some jurors were inadvertently shown.”
An official at the Superior Court of Fulton County’s Office of the Court Administrator told The Independent that they “didn’t know” who was responsible for airing the live feed.
Mr Williams (aka Young Thug) and 27 other defendants face RICO charges and claims that “YSL” is not just a record label that stands for “Young Stoner Life” but a part of a “criminal street gang,” according to the prosecution, called “Young Slime Life.” The trial continued into its fourth day on Thursday.