U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly ruled on Tuesday (Feb. 1) that R. Kelly has until Thursday, Feb. 17 to fight his Sept. 2021 conviction in light of him contracting COVID while incarcerated.
Ahead of Judge Donnelly’s ruling, Jennifer Bonjean—Kelly’s attorney who also helped overturn Bill Cosby’s 2018 sexual assault conviction—filed a motion that noted the singer’s COVID diagnosis “interfered with his ability to speak with counsel by telephone” in an effort to review his post-trial paperwork.
“It is vitally important that Mr. Kelly meaningfully participate in his post-trial defense,” Bonjean wrote in her letter to the court. “The [jail] has not indicated when visits will resume which is less than ideal, but undersigned counsel is confident that she can accomplish necessary discussions with Mr. Kelly via upcoming scheduled Zoom visits.”
Bonjean’s work with Cosby led to his release from prison in Oct. 2021. Her current client was convicted on one count of federal racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, an anti-sex-trafficking statute. He is potentially facing life in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 4.
Ahead of Kelly’s federal Chicago trial scheduled to begin in August, two other lawyers on his legal team requested to step down in mid-January. One told CNN that he believed Kelly was “insistent that we work with people who we felt would be rendering ineffective assistance as counsel.”