Meek Mill's lawyers argue for his release

Meek Mill performs at the BET Hip Hop Awards, on Sept. 28, 2013, in Atlanta.

With his record label calling the financial impact of his imprisonment "devastating," Meek Mill's lawyers on Thursday petitioned a city judge to release the Philadelphia-born rapper jailed last Friday for violating his probation on a 2009 drug and gun case.

The petition for a writ of habeas corpus was filed in Common Pleas Court and contends Mill's alleged violations were not significant enough for Judge Genece E. Brinkley to return him to prison for three to six months.

The petition also maintains that Brinkley failed to follow procedure by not first conducting a hearing advising Mill of the alleged violations, and a second hearing where the rapper and his lawyer could present a defense.

Habeas corpus - Latin for "you have the body" - is an emergency petition meant to quickly free a person unlawfully imprisoned. The petition, filed by veteran Center City criminal lawyer Dennis J. Cogan, asks Brinkley to hold a hearing within three days or to free Mill on bail pending resolution of the dispute.

By close of business Thursday, no hearing had been scheduled.

During last Friday's hearing, Assistant District Attorney Noel Ann DeSantis told Brinkley she would oppose early release.

Brinkley ruled that Mill, 27, whose real name is Robert Williams, used Twitter to mock his probation officer and DeSantis and accuse them of racism. The judge also concluded that Mill either missed appointments with his probation officer or arrived late, and that he did not provide a telephone number where he could be reached at any time.

Cogan wrote that none of the alleged probation violations "should have resulted in a revocation of his probation. At the time probation was revoked, Mr. Williams had been under court supervision for over five years and had never committed a new crime.

"The absence of any direct violation over the course of half a decade - a period, moreover, in which Mr. Williams has worked long and hard to achieve considerable success in his career - should be a cause for celebration and not condemnation," the petition reads.

Attached to the petition was a letter from Patrick J. Egan, a lawyer for Atlantic Records, which in association with Maybach Music Group is producing and marketing Mill's next album, Dreams Worth More Than Money, set for release Sept. 9.

The letter says that more than 50 musicians, composers, and other artists have worked for more than a year on the album, and that the label has advanced several hundred thousand dollars to produce it.

"If the artist is unable to promote his album release, thousands of fans will be disappointed and potentially turn their interest to other artists," Egan wrote, "which could prove devastating to this artist's career and damaging to those who have worked and hoped to continue working with him over the course of that career."

Since having his parole revoked, Mill has had to cancel his appearance at two concerts, one last Friday in Washington and another - billed as his "Homecoming Tour" - that had been set for Saturday at Temple University's Liacouras Center.

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