CHICAGO – Jury selection in the trial of actor Jussie Smollett will begin on November 29, a Cook County judge said at a hearing on Tuesday.
Mr Smollett is charged with misconduct in orchestrating an attack in 2019. Mr. Smollett has pleaded not guilty.
The case began on January 29, 2019 when Mr Smollett alleged two men attacked him in a racist and homophobic attack while he was coming home from a sandwich shop. He had been beaten, doused with an “unknown chemical substance”, had been insulted in a racist and homophobic manner and had a rope around his neck.
On February 20, 2019, Cook County Attorney Kim Foxx accused Mr. Smollett of filing a false police report. The charges were dropped, and in August of that year a judge appointed a special prosecutor, Dan K. Webb, to deal with the case. (The judge said Ms. Foxx had not followed the procedure earlier in the case.)
As he finished his investigation, Mr. Webb said that Mr. Smollett would be charged again with six crimes of disorderly conduct. Mr. Webb also noted that Ms. Foxx’s office, while not breaking the law in handling the case, used their discretion in setting the charges, and found that the office had made false or misleading public statements about it why this was the case.
Mr Smollett and his attorneys (eight were in attendance at a videoconferencing hearing on Tuesday) appeared several times before Cook County District Court Judge James B. Linn. But only now has a date been set because of the pandemic, the scope of the discoveries in the case, and a dispute over who could represent Mr Smollett.
In March 2020, an attorney, Nenye Uche, filed documents to join Mr Smollett’s defense team, but Mr Webb disputed, citing a conflict of interest because Mr Uche interviewed two brothers – Abimbola and – shortly after the Jan. 29 incident Olabinjo Osundairo – who could witness the prosecution.
In July, Judge Linn ruled against Mr. Webb, saying that Mr. Uche could represent Mr. Smollett but would not be allowed to question the brothers in the trial.
The judge set the date for the jury selection after the attorneys met for 30 minutes in a breakout room. Before the jury is selected, however, there will be a hearing on October 15 on a new motion to dismiss the case.
Mr Smollett did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr Smollett is also facing a lawsuit by the City of Chicago alleging the actor owed the city more than $ 130,000 to pay for police overtime bills incurred while investigating an alleged hoax.