YSL Young Thug RICO Case: Atlanta Jury Seated After Months of Delays, Clearing Path to Trial

A jury was finally seated Wednesday in the sweeping RICO case in Atlanta against Young Thug and other alleged members of a street gang called YSL, clearing the way for a trial to begin in late November after months of delays.

At the end of a hearing in Fulton County Superior Court, Judge Ural Glanville swore in a jury to hear the case, in which prosecutors allege that Young Thug (Jeffery Williams) and his YSL were not really a record label called “Young Stoner Life” but a violent Atlanta gang called “Young Slime Life.”

The process of picking a jury began way back in January, but the effort was repeatedly delayed as the court struggled to find jurors who could commit to the massive case. With a trial expected to last many months, many prospective jurors successfully argued that they could not afford to halt their lives, citing the need to earn money, childcare commitments and health problems.

The original indictment, filed in May 2022 by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, named Thug and 27 other alleged gang members as defendants, but the upcoming trial will feature just seven. Many defendants have pleaded out of the case, including fellow star rapper Gunna (Sergio Kitchens), who accepted a plea deal last December. Others have been split from the proceedings into separate cases.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Judge Glanville said the opening statements in the trial would kick off on Nov. 27. The jury is composed of seven Black women, two white women, two Black men and one white man, according to reports by Atlanta media outlets including the local NBC affiliate.

The YSL case is built around Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a law based on the more famous federal RICO statute that’s been used to target the mafia, drug cartels and other forms of organized crime. Such laws make it easier for prosecutors to sweep up many members of an alleged criminal conspiracy based on many smaller acts that aren’t directly related. Notably, it’s the same statute that Willis is using to prosecute former President Donald Trump and several associates over allegations that tried to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Thug and the other defendants are accused of violating the Georgia RICO law through numerous individual “predicate acts,” including murders, carjackings, armed robberies, drug dealing and other crimes over the course of a decade, as well as other separate charges. Thug also faces several other charges over guns, drugs and other materials allegedly found in his home when he was arrested.

If fully convicted, he could face a life sentence. He’s already been in jail for 17 months since the indictment was handed down, after the judge repeatedly refused to grant him pre-trial release on bond.

Beyond indicting two of rap’s biggest stars, the YSL case also made waves because it cited their lyrics as supposed evidence of their crimes — a controversial practice that critics say unfairly sways juries and injects racial bias into the courtroom. California recently restricted the tactic in that state, but Willis has strongly defended using it against Young Thug.

The extent to which prosecutors can present lyrics as evidence at the upcoming trial is not yet settled. A hearing next week is scheduled to hear arguments from both sides before a ruling is issued ahead of the Nov. 27 start date.

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