Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
Entertaiment | By Paul Elliott

Is the Jussie Smollett Case Enough to Bring Down "Empire?"

Is the Jussie Smollett Case Enough to Bring Down

The "Empire" actor arrived at Illinois' Cook County courthouse shortly before 9 a.m. local time ahead of a hearing to assign a judge to his case, followed by his arraignment.

After Smollett pleaded not guilty, Cook County Judge Steven Watkins granted him permission to travel to NY and California to consult with his attorneys, if he provides 48 hours notice to the court's pretrial services office.

The actor appeared in court earlier this week, when prosecutors and defence lawyers agreed to allow cameras during Thursday's hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

Smollett appeared in court in Chicago to answer the indictment, which a grand jury returned last Friday.

The judge will then likely ask Smollett to enter a plea.

Prosecutors allege that Smollett, who is black and gay and plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox TV show, hired two friends to help him stage the attack on him in downtown Chicago early on the morning of January 29. He said at least one of them had invoked President Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan by yelling "This is MAGA country" during the attack.

Chicago Illinois. Smollett stands accused of arranging a homophobic racist attack against himself in an attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with his
Nuccio DiNuzzo Getty Images

A week before the alleged attack, Smollett told authorities he received a threatening letter at work.

An attorney for the Osundairo brothers, Abimbola "Abel" and Olabinjo "Ola", has said a $3500 check the actor gave the brothers was for both personal training and to stage an attack.

"There has been a lot of misinformation in this case that's been presented as fact and evidence against Mr. Smollett that is demonstrably false", his attorney Tina Glandian said after a hearing Tuesday in Chicago, as her client walked quickly past the media scrum.

Actor Jussie Smollett denies lying to police and faking a hate crime attack; Matt Finn reports from Chicago.

"Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption", the lawyer, Mark Geragos, said last week. It was unclear Thursday if cameras had been allowed inside the courtroom. "What is unexpected, however, is the prosecutorial overkill in charging 16 separate counts".

Fox cut Smollett's character in "Empire" after he was arrested.

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