CHICAGO -- Almost a year to the day after Jussie Smollett was first brought up on charges accusing him of staging a bizarre hate crime on himself, the former "Empire" actor pleaded not guilty in a new criminal case connected to the incident.
Smollett pleaded not guilty to six counts of disorderly conduct before Judge James Linn. A new indictment earlier this month alleged Smollett made four separate false reports to Chicago police in the aftermath of the Jan. 29, 2019, incident near Smollett's residence in Chicago's tony Streeterville neighborhood.
Smollett's lawyers had requested a delay in the arraignment since they have filed paperwork with the Illinois Supreme Court regarding the case and a motion in Linn's courtroom to dismiss the indictment on double-jeopardy grounds.
Linn did not delay the proceedings and instead released Smollett on a $20,000 individual bond and ordered him to return to court March 18.
Smollett arrived in a dark SUV Monday with an entourage that included his lawyer, Tina Glandian. As they walked silently up the courthouse steps, several cameramen tripped as they backed up, creating a small pileup. Smollett did not respond to questions shouted by reporters as he made his way into court.
After two false starts, Judge LeRoy Martin Jr. announced that Smollett's case was assigned to Judge Linn, a courthouse veteran with a spacious seventh-floor courtroom.
Linn was the third judge selected to hear Smollett's case. The first two selected via a random generator, William Gamboney and Diane Gordon Cannon, both happened to be out sick Monday, Martin said.
"I want a judge that's here," he said.
Before his case was assigned to Linn, Smollett sat ramrod-straight in the gallery next to his supporters during a recess, including his sister Jurnee Smollett-Bell.
Across the packed courtroom gallery sat brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, key prosecution witnesses who told police Smollett paid them to stage the attack. The defense has, in turn, accused them of actually beating Smollett and then lying to police about what happened. It was not immediately cleared why the men were there to watch the court proceedings.