Jussie Smollet will stand trial on allegations he filed a false police report related to an alleged 2019 hate crime. A judge refused to dismiss charges against the actor and set a court date of November. According to NBC News, Smollett’s attorney Nenye Uche argued his client had already made a deal to drop the charges if a fine was paid and community service completed.
“A deal is a deal. That’s ancient principle,” attorney Nenye Uche said in court last Friday (Oct. 15).
Instead, Judge James Linn found Smollett’s case had different circumstances, now was being led by a special prosecutor appointed by another judge.
The Empire star faces charges of felony disorderly conduct for allegedly making a false report to Chicago police. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Judge Linn also ruled “no cameras of any sort” would be allowed in the courtroom during the high-profile case.
Smollett was initially arrested in February 2019. By March of that same year, all charges against the actor had been unexpectedly dismissed, resulting in a special prosecutor taking over the case. In March 2020, a grand jury indicted Smollett on the criminal charges, eleven months after prosecutors had dropped similar charges against him.
The debacle sparked national controversy due to the nature of the alleged hate crime and the confusing and conflicting stories from all parties involved.
In January 2019, Smollett claimed to have been the victim of a hate crime, saying his attackers used racist and homophobic language when physically assaulting him and tying a rope around his neck in Chicago. Law enforcement investigated the ordeal and claim to have found no evidence of the crime. Police were led to Ola and Abel Osundairo who gave information to shift the investigation back onto Smollet.
Superintendent Eddie Johnson accused the 39-year-old of staging the attack with hopes of boosting his career after he sent himself a letter containing racist language which failed to garner attention.
“Why would anyone, especially an African-American, use a noose … to further his public profile?” asked Johnson.
Jury selection is slated to begin on November 29. Smollett maintains his stance of not guilty. Although his attorney hoped to have the case dismissed, he asserts the actor wants “nothing more than to go to a jury and clear his name.”
Watch his first public interview after the alleged attack in February 2019 on ABC News with journalist Robin Roberts below.