Young Dolph‘s alleged murder mastermind, Hernandez Govan, has made his first appearance before Judge Jennifer Mitchell, who took over from Judge Lee Coffee.
Govan, the individual accused of ordering the hit on the late rapper, stood before Judge Mitchell during the most recent status conference on Thursday, November 2, as reported by the Daily Memphian. Govan is scheduled to return to court on December 14, and the trial is officially set to start on March 11, 2024.
Govan has been accused of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, first-degree murder, and criminal attempt of first-degree murder.
Mitchell was appointed as the new judge in the case shortly after Judge Lee Coffee recused himself on October 27.
Coffee’s recusal was prompted by a motion filed by Luke Evans, the attorney representing co-defendant Justin Johnson. Evans claimed that Coffee couldn’t remain impartial, citing the judge’s failure to notify him about an order restricting Johnson’s communication with individuals outside the jail, except for Evans, as reported by the AP News.
Coffee essentially confined Johnson to administrative segregation, which meant he would have “denied all telephone, writing, and visitation privileges (excluding attorney visitation) until the disposition of this case.” This action was taken in response to the release of a song in 2022 titled “No Statements,” which was reportedly recorded on a contraband cell phone.
According to Evans, Coffee’s order against his client was considered “punitive” because he didn’t inform the defense about his intention to issue the order before doing so, and the appeals court agreed.
However, Coffee’s recusal faced opposition from Paul Hagerman, the deputy district attorney for the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office. Hagerman informed Judge Mitchell’s court that he didn’t believe Judge Coffee had done anything wrong, as reported by the Daily Memphian.
“We did not see any reason for the recusal,” he said. “Of course, the Court of Criminal Appeals disagreed, and we follow the law and we follow their orders. So, here we are in Division 10, and nothing’s gonna stop us. We’re gonna keep on going on this thing.”
The other co-defendants in the case, Jermarcus Johnson, Justin Johnson, and Cornelius Smith, are scheduled to appear in court on December 1, as reported by the outlet. Despite the original judge’s recusal, the trial date remains unaffected as of now.