Jussie Smollett Pleads Not Guilty to 16 Felony Counts

Jussie Smollett Pleads Not Guilty to 16 Felony Counts

Jussie Smollett is pleading not guilty to the 16 charges stemming from his allegedly lying to police about being attacked in Chicago.

Presiding Criminal Court Judge LeRoy Martin allowed a camera in the courtroom for Thursday's arraignment, but it will be up to Watkins, Smollett's trial judge, to decide whether cameras will be in court for future hearings.

It's being said he will need to attend every court date from here on out, but is allowed to travel to Los Angeles and NY for meetings with his lawyers. He was in court Tuesday for a hearing to determine whether a judge should allow cameras in court.

In February, Smollett was charged with a felony of disorderly conduct and was released on $100,000 bail. The charges all are Class 4 felonies, the lowest category of felony offense under IL law.

In case you missed it, the 36-year-old was indicted on 16 counts late last week for "false report of offense" - all class 4 felonies.

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Mark Geragos, one of Smollett's attorneys and a CNN legal analyst, said the actor maintains his innocence and called the indictment "prosecutorial overkill". He claimed two masked men - one of them also wearing a red hat - shouted racist and homophobic slurs as they beat him, put a noose around his neck, and poured a chemical on him.

Interestingly enough, Empire returned for its Season 5 midseason premiere on Wednesday, marking the show's first new episode since Smollett's alleged January 29 attack. His attorneys say they want the public to see the evidence, or lack thereof, in the case.

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett has pleaded not guilty to the charges accusing him of lying to police about being attacked in downtown Chicago a few weeks ago. Details in some of those statements were different, the indictment says.

Judge Watkins approved a request from Smollett's lawyers that the actor be allowed to travel freely to NY and California to consult with his bicoastal legal teams.

In a searing live press conference on that same day, CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson said it was "shameful' what Smollett allegedly try to pull off and accused him of perpetuating a "hoax". But the Fox drama's executive producers said in a statement last month that the actor's character would be removed from this season's final two episodes "to avoid further disruption on set".

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