Jussie Smollett lawyers get more time to prepare arguments

Chicago News

CHICAGO (AP) — A judge on Monday granted lawyers for Jussie Smollett more time to prepare arguments on several issues, including whether they can introduce a key witness’s previous conviction for battery.

Cook County Judge James Linn scheduled the next hearing in the case for Aug. 26.

But Linn also urged lawyers for Smollett and the special prosecutor’s office to prepare for a trial or other resolution to the charges that the actor staged a racist and homophobic attack in 2019.

Progress on the case was slowed by accusations that one of Smollett’s attorneys, Nenye Uche, had spoken to the two men the actor allegedly hired to help him carry out the attack. Special Prosecutor Dan Webb argued that was a conflict of interest.

Linn on Friday ordered that Uche could remain on the case but prohibited him from questioning the two brothers, Abinbola and Olabinjo Osudairo, should the case go to trial.

Uche told the judge on Monday that he needed more time to prepare arguments on several pre-trial motions, including the defense’s hope to introduce evidence about the older brother’s prior conviction.

Uche maintained Smollett’s innocence on Monday, saying that the ongoing case is a waste of city resources.

“How much of the taxpayer’s money has been spent on the lowest level felony charge, which is a class 4 disorderly conduct?” Uche said. “This is not a murder case, an armed robbery case. This is not a bank robbery class. This is a class 4 felony disorderly conduct. To me, it might as well be a misdemeanor charge.”

Smollett, who was starring in the television show “Empire” at the time of the incident, has been charged with felony counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing false police reports about what happened. He has denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty.

Smollett attended Monday’s virtual hearing and told the judge he was in New York City.

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