Jussie Smollett jury selection begins

Chicago News

4:10 p.m. — 12 jurors, 3 alternates selected; Opening statements to begin

The jury, along with three alternates, in the Jussie Smollett trial was empaneled later Monday afternoon, about seven hours after proceedings began.

Opening statements are expected to begin at 4:45 p.m., and Judge James Linn has said that proceedings may last until 7 p.m. throughout the duration of the trial.

3:53 p.m. — Another seven jurors selected

After more than six hours of proceedings, Judge James Linn swore in another seven jurors Monday afternoon, bringing the total to 13, though Linn was still working to secure more alternates, according to a pool report.

2:24 p.m. — Six jurors selected

Four men and two women were selected as jurors after several hours of questions from Cook County Judge James Linn as of Monday afternoon.

Linn has said that the rest of the jurors will be empaneled Monday, and he expects arguments to begin before sending jurors home, likely around 7 p.m.

12:43 p.m. — 16 potential jurors questioned before lunch

More than a dozen potential jurors in the Jussie Smollett trial faced questions from Judge James Linn Monday morning.

Before a mid-day break, Linn had posed questions to 16 potential jurors, asking them if they watched the show “Empire,” where they read the news and if they were a victim of or witness to a crime.

Of those 16, the majority were white, according to a pool report.

No jurors were dismissed as of 12:30 p.m.

One woman told Linn that she, potentially, could not be fair. The woman said that she looked into the case shortly after Smollett reported that he was the victim of a hate crime. The woman told Linn that she did so because her daughter is gay and works in the downtown area.

“I was concerned for her safety and what was going on,” she said.

10:47 a.m. — Judge James Linn addresses potential jurors

As jury selection got underway, Cook County Judge James Linn stressed to potential jurors that a defendant’s presumption of innocence is the “bedrock of our society.”

Linn told the 50 potential jurors that he expected the jury to be selected and hear the start of evidence on Monday. The judge also said that the trial could last until early next week.

Most members of the media were asked to leave Linn’s courtroom to allow for social distancing among potential jurors. Two pool reporters — one from the Chicago Tribune and another from ABC7 — were allowed to remain in Linn’s courtroom. All members of the press are expected to be allowed inside once a jury is selected.

“We take this very seriously and we will continue in a safe manner,” Linn said.

Linn said that proceedings will likely go until 7 p.m. each day of the trial.

9:28 a.m.Smollett, family arrive at court

Jury selection began Monday morning in the criminal trial of former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett.

Smollett is charged with six felony counts of filing a false report stemming from his claim that he was the subject of a racial and homophobic attack in Streeterville in January 2019.

Cook County Judge James Linn is overseeing the proceedings, and the trial could last through the week.

A grand jury, empaneled by special prosecutor Dan Webb, brought the charges against Smollett in February 2020 — about a year after the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office moved to quickly dismiss the initial set of charges leveled against Smollett.

Webb and his colleagues were seen arriving at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse at 8:20 a.m.

Smollett and his family arrived at the courthouse shortly after 9 a.m. His arms were locked with his mother’s as they strode past a crowd of news cameras in the courthouse lobby.

When they reached the 7th floor, Smollett and his supporters were briefly stopped by a Cook County Sheriff’s deputy. Smollett’s mother, still locking an arm with her son, made the sign of the cross before walking into Linn’s courtroom.

Linn called the case at 9:23 a.m.

CHICAGO — Beginning Monday, a Cook County jury will be picked and tasked with deciding whether or not former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett staged a hate crime in Streeterville nearly three years ago.

The case gripped the city when it was first thrust into public view. Smollett, a Black and gay actor on the Fox series “Empire,” told Chicago police that he was attacked by two masked men in the middle of a frigid night after he left a Subway restaurant.

Smollett said his attackers used homophobic and racial slurs while putting a noose around his neck, with one of the assailants telling him, “This is MAGA country,” a reference to former President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan.

Smollett himself became a suspect soon after, and he was charged with making a false report. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said she “recused” herself from the case to “address questions of impartiality.” Shortly after he was charged, “Empire” producers said Smollett’s character would be written out of the show.

However, the charges against Smollett were quickly dropped with little explanation in March 2019. The city later filed a federal lawsuit against Smollett, seeking to recoup the money that was spent investigating Smollett’s initial attack claim.

Eventually, Cook County Judge Michael Toomin appointed Dan Webb — the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois — as special prosecutor, tasked with determining if there was wrongdoing by the state’s attorney’s office in dropping the charges, and deciding if Smollett should face criminal charges.

A grand jury returned a six-count indictment against Smollett in February 2020.

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