Actor Jussie Smollett returned to court on Wednesday (July 14) for the first time in a year for a five-hour hearing related to the case accusing the Empire star of staging a hate crime. According to The Associated Press, this week’s hearing was to determine if the attorney currently representing the 37-year-old could continue to do so.
Smollett was indicted by a grand jury in February 2020 on six counts of disorderly conduct and is accused of making four separate false reports to the Chicago Police Department. Similar charges against the actor were dismissed by local prosecutors a year prior after authorities accused Smollett of lying about two masked men attacking him on a street in January 2019.
Cook County Judge James Linn scheduled the hearing this week to see if Smollett’s attorney, Nenye Uche, had a conflict of interest in the case after two witnesses –– the brothers prosecutors said Smollett hired and paid to stage the attack –– said they previously spoke to the lawyer.
Brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo reportedly said they spoke with Uche about the case after the lawyer joined Smollett’s legal team. If a judge determines there’s a conflict of interest, it could result in Uche being barred from representing the actor.
Uche reportedly denied speaking with the brothers.
Attorneys who left the court Wednesday (July 15) said Judge Linn is expected to make a decision regarding Uche at a later date. The next hearing in Smollett’s case is scheduled to be conducted virtually on August 12.