(Photo Credits: Dominick D [CC BY-SA])

Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was back in Chicago courthouse this Monday—February 25, 2020—to face new charges. He reportedly pleaded not guilty to six new criminal charges which included allegedly orchestrating a hate crime on himself and making four separate false reports to the Chicago Police Department. Cook County Circuit Court Judge James Linn set a $20,000 personal recognizance bond on Smollett as he wasn’t a flight risk, meaning that the bond does not need to be paid as long as Smollett appears in court as required. Smollett will be back in court on March 18 for the next hearing. 

According to Reuters, Smollett’s attorney Tina Glandian had “submitted a motion to the circuit court to dismiss the case based on a double-jeopardy challenge, claiming that Smollett had already been punished in the original case by forfeiting his original $10,000 bond.”

The Osundairo brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola, who Smollett allegedly paid $3,500 “to stage the incident for publicity,” also appeared in the court hearing. The brothers’ lawyer, Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez, explained their presence by saying simply that it was to “support the criminal justice process.” Rodriguez also said that, “The brothers are sorry for their involvement.”

It has been over a year since Jussie Smollett—37, an actor and an openly gay black man—had reported on January 29, 2019 that he was attacked by two men in Chicago who he said had also yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him. But after police investigation, Smollett was instead charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct last March 8, 2019 for allegedly staging a fake racist and homophobic hate crime attack on himself. However, these charges were dropped by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office last March 26, 2019. The decision came after “reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case” including Smollett’s agreement to forfeit his bond plus the community service he rendered. His case files were “immediately sealed” and were said to have been expunged from Smollett’s records.

Last June 2019, however, Cook County Judge Michael Toomin “ruled that irregularities in the case warranted a special prosecutor.” Two months later, Judge Toomin appointed former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb as special prosecutor to look into the entire Jussie Smollett case. At the time, Chicago Tribune said that the special prosecutor could file new charges against Smollett “or anyone else they reasonably believe committed a crime.” Fast forward to February 11, 2020, it was announced that Smollett was indicted by grand jury on six counts of disorderly conduct for filing false reports to Chicago police officers. Read more about Smollett’s case here.