By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS) — Actor Jussie Smollett was back in a Chicago courtroom Wednesday, in person, for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The former “Empire” actor arrived at the courthouse Wednesday morning for a hearing behind closed doors.

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The hours-long hearing revolved around whether one of Smollett’s attorneys should be removed from the case because of an alleged conflict of interest.

The special prosecutors in the case said Smollett’s new attorney, Nenye Uche, spoke with two key witnesses before taking on Smollett as a client. Those witnesses are brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo, who claim Smollett hired them to stage a fake attack on the actor.

The judge is expected to make a decision on the attorney’s involvement next month.

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Smollett was accused in January 2019 of staging a racist and homophobic attack against himself in Streeterville. He was charged with six counts of disorderly conduct.

Two months later, those charges were dropped by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.

A special prosecutor later was assigned to look into the entire case, after a judge found “unprecedented irregularities” in how Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx handled the case, specifically by handing it over to her second-in-command after announcing she had recused herself.

In February 2020, a special Cook County grand jury returned a six-count indictment accusing Smollett of lying to Chicago Police.

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Smollett has pleaded not guilty to the new indictment.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff