Young Thug's Lawyer Was Arrested in Contempt, and the Reason Is Controversial

Lawyers can get arrested too, and it happens more frequently than we think. But Young Thug’s lawyer’s arrest is controversial.

Jamie Lerner - Author

Jun. 12 2024, Published 4:31 p.m. ET

Young Thug's booking photo
Source: Getty Images

For anyone who’s seen the classic film, My Cousin Vinny, we all know that lawyers can and do get arrested. In My Cousin Vinny, lawyer Vinny (Joe Pesci) gets arrested for being in contempt of court when he wears a leather suit, which bothers the traditional Alabama judge. And although it’s set in Alabama, it was filmed in Georgia, a hub of America’s legal system that’s gotten a lot of media attention as of late.

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Between the Fulton County case against Donald Trump and the state’s longest-running trial against Young Thug for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) activity, all eyes are on Georgia. Now, Young Thug’s lawyer, Brian Steel, has been arrested for being in contempt of court under Judge Ural Glanville and people are confused about what he actually did. So why was Steel arrested?

Kevin Liles, Young Thug, Gunna at Gunna Presents DS4EVER
Source: Getty Images
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Young Thug’s lawyer, Brian Steel, was arrested for contempt of court.

When court was in session on June 10, 2024, Young Thug’s defense attorneys wanted to get one thing out of the way. They had heard that an ex parte meeting between the judge, the prosecution, and key witness Kenneth Copeland (aka Lil Woody) had taken place without their presence or knowledge, which goes against their right to information. In the meeting, Lil Woody had allegedly confessed to one of the murders Young Thug is being charged with.

When they approached the judge, instead of denying this, he pressed them on where they received this information. As the attorneys refused to give out that information because of client-attorney privilege, the judge said that if Young Thug’s team did not pull back on this issue, they would be held in contempt of court.

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But they would not drop the issue because of its ramifications on the case. Steel said he had heard that prosecutors told Copeland he would stay in jail until all the defendants’ cases were resolved unless he testified, which he said, "If that's true, it's coercion and witness intimidation."

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Young Thug’s second attorney, Keith Adams added in response to Judge Glanville’s stating that they have disrupted the court, "The challenge I'm having in this particular circumstance — this is such a violation of the sacrosanctness of the court's chambers and an ex parte conversation. You're glossing over that in its entirety.” As the conversation escalated, Glanville decided to arrest Steel for contempt.

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He ordered Steel to be held in Fulton County Jail for “no more than 20 days for contempt.” He added, “Those 20 days consisting of every weekend for the next 10 weekends. And you'll be reporting to 901 Rice Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia, 30318. At 7 p.m. on Fridays, you'll be released on 7 p.m. on Sundays. And it's to commence this Friday, June the 14th at 7 p.m. and not to end until Sunday, August the 18th, 2024, at 7 p.m."

Steel was able to finagle his way into the same prison as Young Thug instead so that they could work together on the case during his time in contempt, but he’ll more than likely appeal the contempt conviction and free up his weekends.

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Brian Steel’s arrest was controversial because he was trying to ensure a fair trial.

Sometimes, judges can overreach what they’re allowed to hold in contempt. According to various legal experts outside of the case, along with people familiar with the Fulton County judicial ring, Judge Glanville overstepped his authority (and has a reputation for this).

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Trial lawyer Tom Church told FOX 5, "If a judge asks a question you’ve got to answer. At the same time, Mr. Steel had a right to attorney-client privilege. Basically, the information he obtained was confidential and if he discloses that information, he could face bar sanctions. So what is an attorney to do?" He clarified that he believed the contempt charge was an overreach.

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On Twitter, Atlanta-based lawyer Andrew Fleischman quoted Shafer, 216 Ga. App. 725, 726 to support Steel’s appeal. He highlighted that the “bad conduct and its adverse impact must be set forth with specificity,” which Glanville did not do in his written appeal. In addition, the contempt must have a “deleterious impact on the court’s operations or its integrity.” However, it could be argued that Steel was trying to ensure integrity.

Several Redditors have taken to the platform to say they believe the judge should be removed from the bench for the snap decision to place the defense attorney in contempt instead of sharing the contents of the ex-parte meeting. Many are also lauding Steel and Adams for their “impressive lawyering” as they requested a mistrial. We’ll just have to see how the case shakes out and if Glanville will stay on as the judge.

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