Young Thug’s Lawyer Brian Steel Held in Contempt, Taken Into Custody

Young Thug’s attorney was held in contempt of court Monday after refusing to tell the judge how he heard about an alleged private conversation between a key state witness, prosecutors, and the judge himself. 

The alleged conversation involved Kenneth Copeland, who was expected to testify that Young Thug (real name Jeffrey Williams) knew he was renting a car as part of a plan to murder Donovan “Peanut” Thomas (a member of an alleged rival gang, YFN). That Williams knew the car would be used in the crime is a major part of the state’s racketeering and gang case against the rapper and the alleged YSL gang. 

But Copeland himself notably spent the weekend in jail after being held in contempt last Friday for suddenly refusing to testify (even though he’d been granted immunity for his testimony). On Monday morning, June 10, Copeland did take the stand, but according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, spent his time dodging questions.

It was reportedly during the day’s lunch break that Steel learned about the meeting, which had allegedly taken place that morning. Steel appeared to allege that, during the meeting, Copeland may have been coerced or intimidated ahead of his testimony. 

“How about the witness, how about Mr. Copeland, who supposedly announced that he’s not testifying and he’ll sit for two years and, supposedly this honorable court, or let me rephrase that, this court, said I can hold you until the end of this trial?” Steel said. 

He then said that he heard that one of the prosecutors had allegedly reminded Copeland that he could be held until all 26 defendants involved in the YSL case have gone through trial. “If that’s true what this is is coercion, witness intimidation, ex parte communications that we have a constitutional right to be present,” Steel said. 

The dispute grew increasingly contentious when Judge Ural Glanville asked Steel to reveal his source of this information. Steel refused to say, and asked instead why he hadn’t been included in the alleged conversation. “How did you get that information, supposedly, from my chambers?” Glanville asked at one point. “Did somebody tell you?”

“You shoulda told me,” Steel fired back. 

Glanville never seemed to deny that a meeting had taken place, even saying at one point there was “nothing that was improper” about the ex-parte conversation. During an exchange with Williams’ co-counsel, Keith Adams, Glanville stressed that it was the leak that frustrated him, calling it “such a violation of the sacrosanctness of the court’s chambers and an ex parte conversation.”

When Adams tried to argue that the conversation was a “violation of Mr. Williams’ rights,” Glanville repeatedly said, “That’s not what happened.” 

Eventually, Glanville held Steel in contempt and told the courtroom deputies to take him into custody. As he was being escorted out, Steel called again for a mistrial and said, “You are removing me against his will, my will, and you’re taking away [Williams’] right to counsel.”


Steel was, however, allowed to return to court, and even the state’s lead prosecutor asked that he be let back in for the rest of the day. Glanville allowed it, but told him he had until about 5 p.m. to reveal his source, lest the contempt charge stand. “You can purge that contempt by just telling me who it is that told you this information,” Glanville said. “That’s all I need to know.”

By the end of the day, Steel had not revealed his source, and his wife (and law partner) had reportedly filed a notice of appeal regarding the contempt charge.

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