Jury selection will begin on November 29 in the upcoming trial of Empire actor Jussie Smollett, a judge in Cook County, Illinois announced at a hearing Tuesday.
Smollett has been charged with disorderly conduct after prosecutors say he staged a hoax hate crime against himself in 2019, The New York Times reported.
Smollett has pleaded not guilty.
In January 2019, Smollett said he had been attacked by two men in a racist and homophobic assault while returning home from a restaurant. He claimed to have been beaten and to have had a substance thrown on him. Smollett also said the assailants spewed racist and homophobic slurs at him while tying a rope around his neck.
Almost a month later, Cook County state’s attorney Kim Foxx charged the actor with filing a false police report. However, the charge was later dropped, and a judge assigned a special prosecutor, Dan Webb, to the case, according to the Times.
After Webb’s investigation, he said that Smollett would be indicted again on six felony counts of disorderly conduct. He also found that Foxx’s office had made false claims as to why it dropped the previous charges.
Following his arrest and the investigations into the alleged hoax, Empire producers wrote out Smollett’s character from the show.
Lawyers for Smollett have been in front of Cook County Circuit Court Judge James Linn several times before Tuesday’s hearing. The jury selection date, according to the Times, only now was decided due to the pandemic as well as a dispute over who was representing the actor.
Last July, Linn ruled one of Smollett’s lawyers, who had previous contact with two witnesses — Abel and Ola Osundairo — in the criminal case against Smollett, would be allowed to represent Smollett at trial, according to Chicago station WBBM-TV. He can't, however, cross-examine the brothers, who say Smollett paid them $3,500 to help stage the attack.
On October 15, a new hearing is scheduled over a motion to again dismiss the case.
Besides the criminal charges, Smollett has also been sued by the City of Chicago for more than $130,000 in police overtime that city officials say was spent investigating what they call a lie.