Jussie Smollett Pleads Not Guilty in Hoax Assault Case

Jussie Smollett Pleads Not Guilty in Hoax Assault Case

Jussie Smollett Pleads Not Guilty in Hoax Assault Case

The hearing in Cook County Circuit Court began with Judge Steven Watkins being assigned to oversee the case, including the trial, if it reaches that point.

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.

"Yes, sir", Smollett said in a soft voice as the judge instructed him that he would next return to court on April 12.

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Police say Smollett, who is black and gay, staged the January 29 incident because he was unhappy with his salary on the Fox show and wanted to promote his career.

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. 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.

Smollett, who is free on bond, maintains his innocence. The actor's attorney Mark Geragos called the indictment "vindictive" and "prosecutorial overkill". Chicago police say the money was for the staged attack, while Smollett claims it was for a five-week nutrition and workout program, as noted in the check's memo.

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The "Empire" actor, 36, will be arraigned before a judge and enter a formal plea.

"We welcome cameras in the courtroom so that the public and the media can see the actual evidence and what we believe is the lack of evidence against Mr. Smollett, and we look forward to complete transparency and the truth coming out", she said at a news conference earlier this week.

In February, Smollett was charged with a felony of disorderly conduct and was released on $100,000 bail.

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There were several supporters outside the courthouse doors as Smollett arrived for the hearing, including some who waved signs. That is not a point that prosecutors seem to have pursued in their case and one that various sources at Fox and others close to Smollett have scoffed at.

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