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Evidentiary hearing in Jussie Smollett case scheduled in July

The actor has to be present at the hearing on July 14, Judge James Linn said. The hearing, closed to the public, will center on the possible contact between one of Smollett’s attorneys and the brothers who were allegedly paid by the former “Empire” star to stage a phony hate crime.

Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett walks into the Leighton Criminal Courthouse for a hearing, Monday morning, Feb. 24, 2020.
Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett walks into the Leighton Criminal Courthouse for a hearing, Monday morning, Feb. 24, 2020.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

A Cook County judge Monday scheduled a July 14 evidentiary hearing looking into whether one of Jussie Smollett’s lawyers had contact with the two brothers who were allegedly paid by the former “Empire” star to stage a phony hate crime in 2019.

The hearing is closed to the public but Judge James Linn said Smollett must be present at the in-person hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse along with the attorneys and witnesses.

Smollett, who attended Monday’s livestream hearing from New York City, said he would attend the summer hearing.

It’s unclear which witnesses will be called to the stand. However, it’s expected that Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo — the siblings Smollett allegedly hired to help in his ruse — and their lawyer, Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez, will be present since the hearing revolves around the brothers and Smollett’s attorney Nenye Uche.

Smollett continues to be represented by high-profile attorney Mark Geragos’ Los Angeles-based law firm.

But Uche, a former Cook County prosecutor now in private practice, was hired as Smollett’s lead defense attorney earlier this year.

Nenye Uche, the attorney of Mia Wright, who said a police officer grabbed her out of her car by her hair and knelt on her neck outside Brickyard Mall in June, speaks during a press conference near 314 N. Loomis St. in West Town Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 29, 2020. Wright was charged with disorderly conduct and suffers from partial blindness from the incident. Uche announced Tuesday that charges against her had been dropped. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
Nenye Uche on Sept. 29, 2020.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

In March, special prosecutor Dan Webb told Linn he learned that Uche may have had contact with the Osundairo brothers. Linn ultimately said an evidentiary hearing would be necessary to determine whether Uche received information that would disqualify him from representing Smollett.

Smollett, 38, faces felony charges for allegedly lying to Chicago police in January 2019 when he said he was the victim of a homophobic and racist attack while walking back to his Streeterville apartment. At the time, Smollett said he was jumped by two masked white men who punched him and put a thin rope noose over his head, while yelling racist and homophobic slurs.

Chicago police officials said their investigation revealed that Smollett paid the Osundairo brothers to stage the attack.

Contributing: Matthew Hendrickson