R. Kelly’s lawyers ask Cook County judge to throw out $4 million judgment against singer — again

WGN Investigates

R. Kelly appears during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Sept. 17, 2019. (Antonio Perez/pool/Chicago Tribune)

CHICAGO — Despite the “profound ineptitude” of the R. Kelly’s former attorneys, a Cook County judge should deny the embattled singer’s latest attempt to overturn a $4 million judgment leveled against him last year, a new court filing contends.

In a filing made earlier this week, attorney Jeffrey Deutschman argued that the petition to vacate the $4 million judgment — filed in February by Kelly’s new lawyers — was made too late and doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.

The suit was brought against Kelly in February 2019, just a day before the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office charged the singer with sexually abusing four people between 1998 and 2010. The woman who filed the suit — who WGN is not naming — is one of the four alleged victims in that criminal case.

In March 2020, the judge overseeing the civil case — in which Kelly was represented by at least three other attorneys — ruled against Kelly and ordered him to pay the woman $4 million. His new lawyers said that “miscommunication” among those prior attorneys effectively left the singer unrepresented in civil matters. The new attorneys argue that those conditions pave the way for their motion to vacate to move forward.

“Because Robert lacked the ability to defend this case as a result of circumstances out of his control, the $4,000,000.00 judgment order entered against him by this Court is manifestly unjust,” Kelly’s new attorneys wrote in their February petition.

Deutschman, though, pointed out that one of Kelly’s previous attorneys in the civil case filed another motion to vacate the $4 million judgment seven months after the award was issued, though that motion was “abandoned” and never heard by a judge.

“These multiple misrepresentations and the profound ineptitude of counsel do not meet Defendant’s burden on this petition to vacate,” Deutschman wrote. “In fact, Defendant meets none of the requirements to vacate the judgment order.”

It’s unclear when a judge will rule on Kelly’s motion to vacate.

Last year, a county judge ordered a freeze on the $1.5 million in Kelly’s royalties account with Sony. That money was later awarded to Midwest Commercial Funding, a Wisconsin based property management company from which Kelly previously rented his West Loop studio space. The company sued Kelly over unpaid back rent and repair costs that totaled $3.5 million.

Deutschman’s client and Midwest Commercial Funding both argued that they were entitled to the money in Kelly’s royalties account. Last year, a Cook County judge ruled that the money would go to Kelly’s former landlord because the company made a claim to it first.

Kelly has remained locked up at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in the Loop as his criminal cases progress. All told, he faces criminal charges on four fronts: he faces state charges in Cook County and in Minnesota, and he’s charged federally in Chicago and in New York.

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