Meek Mill’s criminal record is clear of felonies for the first time in over a decade. On Wednesday, July 24, a Pennsylvania Superior Court overturned the 2008 drug and gun conviction that ultimately led to his decade-long probation and 2017 prison sentence. Meek was granted the opportunity to retry his original case with a new judge and jury.
Jordan Siev, one of his attorneys, tells Complex the latest decision offers Meek a fresh start. “Meek is not a convicted felon. He has no conviction on his record,” he explains. “The best way to describe it is it’s the equivalent of the point in time where he had been arrested but had not yet been tried and convicted.”
The decision is a monumental win for Meek, who has spent much of his adult life wrapped up in the legal system, but Siev says it’s an even greater step for the larger fight for justice and prison reform. From the moment he was released from jail in 2018 following a probation violation, Meek switched into activist mode, frequently speaking about the challenges that ex-cons and wrongly convicted individuals face. He launched the Reform Alliance with other influential leaders like JAY-Z to “reduce the number of people who are unjustly under the control of the criminal justice system.”
Siev insists his client’s heart has always been set on giving a voice to the less fortunate. “Meek’s attitude and approach throughout this whole ordeal has been to focus not just on his situation, but on how he can use this to help other people and shine a light on other people who don’t have his visibility,” he explains. “I think it tells you everything you need to know about Meek’s character and why he is such a special individual and really is using his platform to help others.”
There are still a few steps to go before Meek and his team can put this behind them, however. They are currently awaiting a response from the District Attorney’s Office on whether they will proceed with a retrial or drop the case altogether. The best possible outcome would be for the District Attorney to toss the case. Considering the fact that prosecutors confirmed they would not be calling the case’s only witness, Officer Graham, to the stand due to corrupt and negligent behavior, it’s likely Meek will achieve this long-awaited feat.
Jordan Siev spoke with Complex about Meek Mill’s major win and how it will hopefully affect change in Pennsylvania moving forward. The interview, lightly edited and condensed for clarity, is below.
Congrats on the big win. I know this has been a long time coming.
Thank you. It's a great outcome for Meek, first and foremost. I think it's also a great outcome for lots of other people who were affected by the same Officer Graham in the same circumstances. I think the court has really endorsed the approach taken by not just Meek's defense team, but the District Attorney's Office in resolving these cases.
What does this specifically mean for Meek? Does this mean he has a clean slate?
As it stands right now, Meek's original conviction, the gun and drug conviction from 2008, is vacated. So it's as if it never happened. The violation of probation from November 2017 that resulted in the two to four-year sentence has also been vacated. He has been granted PCRA relief, Post Conviction Relief Act, meaning he has been granted a new trial. And he has been granted that new trial before a different judge. So right now, the case is in the hands of the district attorney's office to decide whether they will pursue a new trial. And if they do, it would be before a different judge. If they do not, then it would be up to the new judge to approve that and finally dismiss the case. But right now, as we sit here today, Meek is not a convicted felon. He has no conviction on his record. I guess the best way to describe it is it's the equivalent of the point in time where he had been arrested but had not yet been tried and convicted.
if you can persevere through it, the court system does recognize victims' rights here. And Meek was a victim of this. Make no mistake about it.
What's the likelihood of a retrial?
Well, our position throughout has always been that we want Meek to be treated the exact same way as every other similarly situated defendant. We have never asked for special treatment. So in every similar case that has come up where Officer Graham was the sole or predominant witness in the first trial, the District Attorney's Office has agreed to a new trial. That new trial has been granted upon consent by whatever judge had that. In most cases, that’s Judge Woods-Skipper. Then the District Attorneys’ Office has immediately nolle prosequied the case, which basically means they've said that we're not going to go forward and have a new trial. Judge Woods-Skipper signed off on that so that defendant, in that case, is cleared. We don't see any reason why Meek's case should be any different. But it is in the hands of the District Attorney's Office. And we want to respect their process and we await the communication from them as to how they intend to proceed.
As far as that communication goes, would you say that would be coming within the next couple of weeks?
It's really in the District Attorney’s Office's hands. We are focused on having them make the decision that we think is right and consistent with the way every other case has been handled. So if that decision comes today or in a week or a month, that's up to them. We understand they have a process in place.
Considering Officer Graham was the only witness and his testimony is not reliable, there will likely be challenges for prosecutors to move forward with this case.
It is absolutely positively the case that Officer Graham will not testify should there be a new trial. The District Attorney's Office has even stated that it would not call Graham [to the stand]. If there is a new trial, there would have to be sufficient evidence from other sources. We don't believe that evidence exists because the crime never took place.
What effect would you say this win for Meek Mill has on the rest of the prison system? What do you hope will happen as a result of this?
If you look at this situation, since he was 19 years old, Meek was wrongly accused, wrongly convicted, wrongly sent to jail several times. And all throughout, his approach has been consistent, including on visits I had with him while he was in prison. It was his mindset all along that he has to deal with his own situation. But he has the visibility and the means to deal with it. There are a lot of people caught up in the system that don't have that visibility and don't have that means. So Meek always wanted to use this as an opportunity to shine a light on those people and help them out.
It all leads to the Reform Alliance, which Meek and Michael Ruben and Jay Z and Robert Kraft and a number of other very prominent individuals formed to champion criminal justice reform. They have Van Jones as their CEO. They are actively working on issues that were highlighted by Meek's case. For example, one of the main things they're working on is a cap on probation in Pennsylvania. Meek was on probation for 10 years; 11 years total after his original conviction. That should never be the case.
Meek's whole situation and his prominence has allowed a lot of people to focus on this, read about it, write about it, and talk about it that wouldn't have otherwise necessarily known about this long probation trap that sends people back to jail for not committing additional crimes. I think that Meek's plight and the spotlight that has shined on the situation as a result of this decision—which says when you have a corrupt system that puts people in jail and you have a judge who does not hear that case fairly and impartially—means ultimately if you can persevere through it, the court system does recognize victims' rights here. And Meek was a victim of this. Make no mistake about it.
Has a civil suit ever been discussed or considered?
There's been absolutely no discussion about a civil suit. We are thrilled that Meek is no longer a convicted felon. We are focused on bringing this to the finish line, having the District Attorney's Office hopefully confirm there will not be a new trial and having this 100 percent behind him and keeping the focus on helping the thousands of other people who are behind bars on wrongful convictions and probation violations. That's our focus and Meek's focus.
What's the most important thing you would like people to know about Meek in this case right now?
Meek's attitude and approach throughout this whole ordeal has been to focus not just on his situation, but on how he can use this to help other people and shine a lot on other people who don't have his visibility. As I said earlier, I saw that firsthand in going to visit Meek in prison. Think about his situation: He doesn't commit any new crimes while on his ninth year or so of probation. He gets a two to four-year sentence. He's sitting in prison, and what is his focus in that very, very bad time for him personally? Not on just how he's going to get out, but on how he's going to help others. I think that tells you everything you would need to know about Meek's character and why he is such a special individual and really is using his platform to help others.