CHICAGO (CBS) — After more than two years of legal wrangling, former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett is scheduled to go on trial next month on disorderly conduct charges, accusing him of staging a hoax hate crime attack against himself.
At a hearing on Tuesday, a judge scheduled jury selection for Smollett’s trial to begin on Nov. 29.READ MORE: Man Shot In Leg In West Rogers Park
Smollett faces six counts of disorderly conduct, accused of filing false police reports that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic assault on the way home from Subway in the middle of the night in Streeterville in January 2019.
In March 2019, Cook County prosecutors dropped the original case against Smollett, dismissing 16 counts of disorderly conduct against him, without requiring he admit any wrongdoing, in a controversial move just weeks after he’d pleaded not guilty.
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.
Last year, following an investigation by special prosecutor Dan Webb, a special Cook County grand jury returned a six-count indictment accusing Smollett of lying to Chicago Police.
Smollett has pleaded not guilty to the new indictment.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Heavy Rain, Possible Flood Watch
In August, Cook County Judge James Linn denied a motion from Smollett’s attorneys, seeking to call on Foxx or her chief deputy to testify in the case about statements they made to the media about the original case against him.
In July, Linn ruled one of Jussie Smollett’s attorneys, who had previous contact with two of the witnesses in the criminal case against the former “Empire” actor, will be allowed to represent Smollett at trial, but cannot cross-examine the two witnesses.
Linn’s ruling centered around a question of whether attorney Nenye Uche has a conflict of interest in the case, and should be disqualified from representing Smollett.
Special prosecutors handling the case against Smollett and an attorney for brothers Abel and Osundairo — two key witnesses against Smollett — had argued Uche should be kicked off Smollett’s defense team because he spoke to the brothers about the case before taking on Smollett as a client.
However, Linn noted the brothers never hired Uche to represent them.
Linn ruled that Smollett is the only person in the case whose freedom is at stake, and he has waived any potential conflict of interest regarding Uche’s previous contact with the Osundairo brothers, so Uche should stay on the case if Smollett wants him as part of the defense team.MORE NEWS: Man Dies After Being Shot In West Garfield Park
The Osundairo brothers claim Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage a fake attack on the actor.