Jury selection in Jussie Smollett case to start in November

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CHICAGO – Jury selection in actor Jussie Smollett’s trial will begin Nov. 29, a Cook County judge said in a hearing on Tuesday.

Mr Smollett is charged with disorderly conduct in what prosecutors say was the staging of an attack in 2019. Mr Smollett has pleaded not guilty.

The case began on January 29, 2019, when Mr Smollett alleged that two men assaulted him in a racist and homophobic attack on his way home from a sandwich shop. He said he was beaten, given an “unknown chemical”, called racist and homophobic slurs and put a rope around his neck.

On February 20, 2019, Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx charged Mr. Smollett with filing a false police report. The charges were dropped, and in August of the same year a judge appointed a special prosecutor, Dan K. Webb, for the case. (The judge said Ms Foxx did not follow the process earlier in the case.)

When he finished his investigation, Mr. Webb said Mr. Smollett was re-indicted on six counts of disorderly conduct. Mr Webb also found that while Ms Foxx’s office had not broken the law in handling the case, it had abused its discretion by dropping the charges and found that the office had issued false or misleading public statements as to why he had made it.

Mr Smollett and his lawyers (eight of them in a videoconference hearing on Tuesday) have appeared before Cook County Circuit Court Judge James B. Linn on several occasions. But a date was only set because of the pandemic, the volume of discoveries in the case and a dispute over who could represent Mr Smollett.

In March 2020, a lawyer, Nenye Uche, filed documents to join Mr Smollett’s defense team, but Mr Webb objected, citing a conflict of interest because, shortly after the incident of January 29, Mr. Uche had questioned two brothers – Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo – who could be witnesses for the prosecution.

In July, Judge Linn ruled against Mr. Webb, saying Mr. Uche could represent Mr. Smollett but could not question the brothers at trial.

The judge set a date for the jury selection after the lawyers met in a small group room for 30 minutes. Before jury selection, however, on October 15, there will be a hearing on a new motion to dismiss the case.

Mr. Smollett did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr Smollett also faces legal action from the city of Chicago, claiming the actor owes the city more than $ 130,000 to cover the overtime costs the police incurred while they investigated it. which they say is a hoax.


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