R. Kelly trial on hold after officials close federal courthouse

U.S. District Clerk of Court Thomas Bruton confirmed the Dirksen Federal Courthouse will be closed Tuesday and all jury trials will be suspended.

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R. Kelly walks into the Daley Center for a hearing in a child support case.

R. Kelly’s federal trial in Chicago is on hold after officials closed the federal courthouse downtown for one day.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chicago’s federal courthouse will be closed Tuesday because of an “operational issue,” meaning the trial of R&B superstar R. Kelly will be delayed by at least one day.

U.S. District Clerk of Court Thomas Bruton confirmed late Monday the Dirksen Federal Courthouse will be closed, and jury trials will be suspended, on Tuesday. But he did not provide further explanation. There has so far been no indication that the closure is related to Kelly’s trial.

Still, it is highly unusual for officials to close the courthouse for an entire day on such short notice for reasons unrelated to weather. 

R. Kelly Chicago Trial

Full coverage of R. Kelly’s federal trial in Chicago:

Previously, the courthouse was shut down Aug. 10, 2020, following rioting and looting in downtown Chicago. Officials explained in that instance the building would be closed “due to police activity in the downtown area, street closures and public transportation disruptions.”

The building has also been abruptly closed a few times over the years when a hazardous substance was detected in the air, but those closures typically lasted a few hours.

Kelly’s trial, which is nearing its end, was expected to resume Tuesday after a four-day break. Defense attorneys were expected to call additional witnesses, including former Chicago Sun-Times music critic Jim DeRogatis.

DeRogatis in 2002 received a videotape from an anonymous source allegedly depicting Kelly’s sexual abuse of a 14-year-old girl — one of four videos now at issue in Kelly’s current trial. 

Derrel McDavid, Kelly’s former business manager and now co-defendant, has also promised to take the stand.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber agreed to a request from the jury to take off last Friday. He also told them Kelly’s trial would end this week “without fail.” However, the building closure leaves up in the air whether the case will be able to wrap up in that timeframe since defense attorneys still need to conclude their case and lawyers on both sides need to deliver closing arguments, before jurors begin to deliberate. 

That means the trial could likely spill into a fifth week.

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