Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett is due to make an initial court appearance Monday on a new set of charges alleging that he lied to police about being targeted in a racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago early last year.
Smollett, 37, is expected to plead not guilty to the six counts of felony disorderly conduct during Monday’s hearing. He pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of the charge in the same courthouse last year, just weeks before the Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office abruptly announced it was dismissing the case, angering police and City Hall.
Special Prosecutor Dan Webb, a former U.S. attorney who was appointed to examine the state’s attorney’s office’s handling of the case, is expected to attend. Foxx’s office is not involved in the new case against Smollett.
Smollett, who has denied police allegations that he staged the attack to get attention and further his career, will first appear before Chief Judge LeRoy Martin Jr., who will tell him which judge will be assigned to preside over the case. Martin could order Smollett to return to court on another day for his first hearing before that judge, but it is more likely that he will simply tell the actor and the attorneys to immediately report to the trial judge.
Defendants typically enter not guilty pleas during initial hearings before the trial judge, who sets bond amounts that defendants must post to secure their release from custody. Attorneys often arrange for defendants to post bond at the clerk’s office rather than be taken into custody.