A Cook County judge has not yet set a date for the criminal trial of actor Jussie Smollett, but he ruled Thursday that attorneys for the former “Empire” star cannot call Prosecutor Kim Foxx or her deputy to testify.
Judge James Linn on Thursday denied a motion from Smollett’s attorneys who tried to call Foxx and Vice-Chair Risa Lanier to testify about statements they made to the media during Smollett’s first disorderly case in 2019.
Linn said he “disagreed” that each of their public statements provided relevant evidence, calling the request “far from” what would be allowed in court.
Linn had urged Smollett’s attorneys earlier this year to call Foxx, her former top assistant, ex-Mayor Rahm Emanuel or former superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, Eddie Johnson, as witnesses to testify about their public statements on the case.
Smollett was initially arrested in early 2019 after alleging to Chicago police that he was attacked near his Streeterville apartment by two men who yelled at him for racist and homophobic slurs. But after investigating this allegation over the course of weeks, Chicago police detectives found that Smollett himself orchestrated the incident and paid brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo to stage a hoax.
The Foxx office eventually dropped the disorderly conduct against Smollett weeks later in a widely criticized move. The Cook County State Attorney’s handling of these charges eventually resulted in the appointment of Attorney Dan Webb as Special Attorney.
He re-filed charges against Smollett in 2020.
During Thursday’s hearing, Linn also ruled that lawyers should not mention that Smollett and the City of Chicago are dueling each other in the trial.
But he decided that Smollett’s defense team could discuss weapons found during a police search of the Osundairo brothers’ home after they were brought for questioning about the Smollett attack.
Webb urged Linn on Thursday to set a date for the case to be heard, but the judge was not ready, given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and the trials. However, he said he expected a trial to begin and end later this year.
The parties in the case are due for a status hearing on October 5th, if Linn can schedule a hearing.
Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson | [email protected] | (773) 509-5431