A judge is expected to be assigned to Jussie Smollett's disorderly conduct case when the Empire actor returns to a Chicago court Thursday, just days after lawyers on both sides agreed that cameras would be allowed in the courtroom.
The actor unexpectedly showed up at a procedural hearing on March 12 for his California-based primary defense lawyer Mark Geragos to enter the necessary paperwork to represent Smollett in the state of IL.
Watkins granted Smollett's request to be allowed to leave the state meet with his lawyers in NY and California, but said the actor must give the court at least 48 hours' prior notice.
Smollett will next appear in court on April 17.
Jussie Smollet pleads not guilty at Leighton Criminal Court on March 15. The charges all are Class 4 felonies, the lowest category of felony offense under IL law. Smollett's attorneys said they have no statement at this time.
Later developments cast doubt on Smollett's account, including the questioning of two suspects - a pair of Nigerian brothers, one of whom worked as a personal trainer on a music video of Smollett's - who were later released without being charged.
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The Jussie Smollett case has brought doubts over the future of Empire, which has yet to be renewed for a sixth season. Police and prosecutors have said that attack was a hoax, but Smollett's attorneys said they want the public to see the evidence, or lack thereof, in the case.
Interestingly enough, Empire returned for its Season 5 midseason premiere on Wednesday, marking the show's first new episode since Smollett's alleged January 29 attack.
Smollett, who is accused of staging an attack against himself that he blamed on two homophobic, racist Trump supporters, and then lying about it to police, appeared in court yesterday as his lawyer, Tina Glandian, argued in favor of allowing cameras in the court room. "Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption".
Smollett has denied that he staged the attack and maintains he is innocent. He claimed two masked men - one of them also wearing a red hat - shouted racist and homophobic slurs as they beat him, put a noose around his neck, and poured a chemical on him.
Police said Smollett hoped the incident would advance his career and secure him a higher salary.