United States (US) actor Jussie Smollett could face further sanctions after a Chicago judge dismissed his pleas for amnesty and finalised trial proceedings for his 2019 MAGA assault story.
When will Jussie Smollet trial start?
This week, Smollet exhausted his last attempt at escaping possible prosecution when Judge James Linn greenlit findings made by special prosecutor Dan Webb which determined that the former Empire actor’s actions warranted further probing.
A report published by Webb in August 2020 found gaping inconsistencies in the handling of the actor’s ‘hate crime’ debacle. According to NPR, the special prosecutor’s investigation found three abuses of discretion and failures in the handling of Smollett’s case, made by Chicago’s state attorney office.
Not only was it found that Smollett’s celebrity influenced the state attorney office’s decision to drop the case, but it was found that leading prosecutors involved in the matter were in extended communication with Jussie’s sister and fellow actress Jurnee.
Now, more than two years after Smollett’s saga’s incited division in an already racially-segregated society, the actor stands accused of disorderly conduct and faces possible prison time if found guilty.
Here’s what happens now
Smollett, who’s always maintained his innocence and stuck to his story despite glaring evidence that points to the contrary, has entered a ‘not guilty’ plea.
According to the judge presiding over the disorderly conduct case, the first part of trial proceedings will be jury selection, a process where the State and defence sift through a registry of jurors to select the most appropriate jury of Smollett’s peers.
This process, Judge Linn confirmed, will take place on 29 November 2021. Thereafter, Smollett will undergo a trial process the date of which has yet to be determined.
In January 2019, Smollett sent shockwaves across the globe when he filed a police report, claiming he was attacked by two masked, MAGA-hat-wearing assailants for being homosexual.
However, weeks later, the actor’s story was torn apart by developments that suggested he lied about the entire ordeal.
In a bid to skirt prosecution, Smollett agreed to hours of community service and a penalty totalling more than R144 000 ($10 000).
Except, recent developments suggest that this was not enough to avoid accountability .