Young Thug trial on track to become Georgia’s longest in history
Jury selection in the RICO trial has already lasted more than eight weeks with not a single juror seated
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The longest jury selection and subsequent trial in Georgia history was the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) cheating case back in 2014.
But that was until the current trial of Jeffery Williams - aka Young Thug - which has already broken the APS jury selection record of eight weeks and could easily become Georgia’s longest trial in history.
“I don’t know why this trial would be longer than the APS trial, because it’s more straightforward,” said Chris Timmons, a former prosecutor for DeKalb and Cobb counties and who is now in private practice at Knowles Gallant Timmons. “The APS trial included teachers and educators accused of cheating. This one is about gangsters.”
Nonetheless, more than eight weeks after jury selection began, not a single juror has been placed, and several hip hop-related media sites are reporting the process could last until May.
Full coverage: The trial of Young Thug
Unsourced court documents quoted by AllHipHop.com said 300 prospective jurors were called on Feb. 24, with 300 more set to be summoned on March 17, April 28 and May 19.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville and attorneys continue hearing from jurors who are asking for exemptions from service.
Hundreds of potential jurors have requested exemptions from service for a variety of reasons: child care and elderly patent care obligations, medical reasons and professional hardship, among others.
Timmons is calling jury selection as actually a process of “de-selection.”
“With a trial of this magnitude, you’re going to seat 12 jurors and probably sign between seven and 12 alternates,” Timmons said. “Over time, you’re going to lose people; someone will get sick, someone will have a death in the family. What’s going on right now is determines that initial group who can be fair, hear the evidence and listen to the judge.
“I’ve won cases in jury selection and lost cases in jury section. This is the most important decision in any case.”
Williams is facing eight criminal counts under a federal law that was originally enacted to fight organized crime.
“Right now, it’s all about fairness,” Timmons said. “There are really two trials. One happens in the courtroom when your hear the evidence. But the real trial happens after closing arguments and takes place in the jury room.”
The federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law was passed and signed into law in 1970 by President Richard Nixon. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, it allows prosecutors to link apparently unrelated crimes with a common objective into a prosecutable pattern of racketeering.
RICO also provides for more severe penalties and permits a defendant to be convicted and separately punished for the underlying crimes that constitute a racketeering pattern.
Georgia is one of 33 states that has its own RICO law, but in the Peach State, the alleged criminal enterprises do not have to have existed as long as the federal law.
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