AceShowbiz - Jussie Smollett has returned to court for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. The former "Empire" star, who has been accused of orchestrating a hate crime against himself in January 2019, insisted that he was not guilty.
At the five-hour hearing, which took place at the Cook County Courthouse on Wednesday, July 14, the 39-year-old actor maintained his innocence. He also described the ongoing trial against him as a "dog and pony show."
Smollett appeared at the private hearing to determine whether one of his attorneys, Nenye Uche, has a conflict of interest representing him in the case. The assumption emerged after Uche reportedly spoke with two of Smollett's alleged accomplices early on in the case.
The accomplices in question are brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo. The siblings alleged that they were paid by Smollet to stage the hate crime against him because he was not happy with his salary. The Langston Hughes depicter in "Marshall" has said several times that Abel and Olabinjo were not telling the truth.
Uche, meanwhile, has denied repeatedly that he ever had conversations with the brothers. "The prosecution should focus on prosecuting the case as opposed to trying to prosecute the defense attorney," Uche stated at a previous hearing.
Judge James Linn was expected to hear Uche and the Osundairo brothers' testimony at the Wednesday hearing. If Uche was proven to have talked to the siblings, he could be disqualified from the case.
In January 2019, Smollett was accused of hiring the brothers to stage an attack on himself outside his Chicago apartment. He was initially indicted on 16 felony counts of filing a false police report, but Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx dropped all charges against him. In February 2020, he was hit with a new six-count indictment accusing him of lying.