Jussie Smollett, the former “Empire” star who was accused of faking a hate crime against himself in Chicago two years ago, scored a major victory in court as his case continues to play out.
Court documents obtained by Fox News show that a judge said that he would not remove one of Smollett’s lawyers from the matter despite the fact that he believes the attorney did, in fact, speak with brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo. These brothers are the two men that Smollett has been accused of hiring to stage the hate crime against him.
The Osundairos told police that Smollett paid them $3,500 to jump him on a Chicago street and hurl racist and homophobic slurs at him in January of 2019 in attempt to raise his profile so that he could garner a bigger salary on “Empire.”
Cook County Judge James Linn ruled that he would bar attorney Nenye Uche, a member of Smollett’s legal team, from questioning the brothers if Smollett’s case goes to trial. If the pair takes the stand, another member of Smollett’s defense team will need to question them, the judge stated.
“The totality of the evidence shows clearly and convincingly that at different points, Mr. Uche talked to both brothers and their mother,” Linn said in his ruling.
Special Prosecutor Dan Webb had argued that a conflict of interest was created when Uche allegedly talked to the brothers in 2019, just after Smollett claimed to be a victim of the hate crime. However, the judge ruled that it was in the court’s interest to allow Smollett to retain his chosen lawyer “when his liberty is at stake,” even though Linn found Webb’s concerns to be legitimate.
Meanwhile, the brothers’ lawyer Gloria Rodriguez said that the judge’s ruling is “consistent with the evidence presented by the Office of the Special Prosecutor.”
“Attorney Uche was found by Judge James Linn to have had confidential attorney-client communications with the Osundairo family,” the memorandum reads. “Judge Linn also and found my clients, Ola and Bola Osundairo, entirely credible.”
“The relief granted by the court today will accomplish protecting those communications by barring Attorney Uche from cross-examining them when they take the stand,” it continues. The Osundairo family is pleased with the result and Ola and Bola Osundairo look forward to testifying at trial.”
Smollett, who is black and gay, claimed in January of 2019 that he was jumped by two men who shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him. He also claimed that they screamed “this is MAGA country,” a reference to former President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” After investigating his claims, however, police found that they believed that Smollett had staged the hate crime.
Smollett himself continues to allege that the hate crime took place.