Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to lying about attack 16 hrs

Yolanda Curtis
March 15, 2019

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.

But in a press conference following Smollett's arrest, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department Eddie T. Johnson claimed that the actor staged his alleged attack to promote his career, and because he was "dissatisfied" with his Empire salary.

Actor Jussie Smollett leaves the Leighton Criminal Court Building after attending a hearing on whether cameras will be allowed in future proceedings of his trial in Chicago, Illinois, March 12, 2019.

Smollett is expected to enter his plea before Watkins after a short recess.

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Smollett has maintained his innocence and his attorney Tina Glandian earlier this week said the case against him is mired in "misinformation". Far from the racist and homophobic assault Smollett first describes in late January, the texts detailed preparing money to buy supplies, buying drugs, setting up meetings and ensuring that MAGA hats and chants were part of the assault. His attorneys say they want the public to see the evidence, or lack thereof, in the case.

In an indictment returned by a grand jury last Thursday, Smollett, who is black, openly gay and plays a gay musician on Fox's hip-hop drama, was charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct alleging he gave false accounts of an attack on him to police investigators.

The Empire star was back in court on Thursday for his arraignment, where he revealed his stance. The counts focus on allegedly false statements made to two different Chicago Police officers.

"This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines", Geragos said. Smollett has denied the attack was a hoax. The men were released without being charged.

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"Jussie Smollett knew that at the time of this transmission there was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed", the indictment states.

Smollett has been suspended from the show and was written out of the final two episodes of this season.

"Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption", the lawyer, Mark Geragos, said last week.

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