Jury selection starts in Jussie Smollett trial

Jury selection starts in Jussie Smollett trial
Photo credit AP/ File

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Jury selection began Monday in Chicago as the trial of Jussie Smollett began some three years after the former “Empire” actor first claimed he had been the victim of a hate crime attack.

Smollett arrived at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse around 9 a.m., walking past a phalanx of news cameras with his mother, Janet, sister Jurnee and brothers Jocqui and Jake. Arm and arm with his mother, the former “Empire” star stepped into Judge James Linn’s courtroom and took a seat at the defense table alongside the team of attorneys that will defend him against a half-dozen felony counts for allegedly making false statements to police.

Judge James Linn has limited the presence of media in the courtroom during the jury selection process, which the judge said should wind up Monday. The veteran judge said jurors would stay as late as 7 p.m. during the trial, which Linn said should end this week or early next.

Linn also said he expected he would be able to seat a jury from the pool of 50 prospective jurors despite the international publicity surrounding a case that has been the subject of countless news stories and late-night comedy punchlines.

Smollett made headlines in 2019 when he claimed a pair of white men assaulted him as he walked home from a sandwich shop near his Streeterville apartment, shouting that the actor was in “MAGA country” and hurling racial and homophobic slurs as they draped a noose over his neck and squirted an unknown chemical on him.