Judge Orders Jussie Smollett's Lawyer Not to Question Brothers Connected to Staged Attack

A judge ordered one of Jussie Smollett's lawyers not to question the two brothers, Abinbola and Olabinjo Osudairo, who were allegedly hired to stage a racist and homophobic attack against Smollett in 2019, the Associated Press reported.

Cook County Judge James Linn ruled Friday that if the case goes to trial, someone other than the attorney, Nenye Uche, would have to do the questioning. In his ruling, Linn specified that he believed Uche did speak to the Osudairo brothers following the incident in 2019.

"The totality of the evidence shows clearly and convincingly that at different points, Mr. Uche talked to both brothers and their mother," Linn wrote.

The alleged communication between Uche and the brothers created a conflict of interest, Special Prosecutor Dan Webb argued. However, Linn decided not to kick Uche off the case and instead ban him from questioning the brothers in court, the Associated Press reported.

Smollett, who is Black and gay, alleged to police in 2019 that he had been walking down the street at night when two men assaulted him, threw liquid on him and put a noose around his neck before running away.

However, police later began investigating whether the attack was staged to further his career, the Associated Press reported.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Jussie Smollett Leaves Courthouse
A judge on Friday, July 30, 2021, announced that he would not kick one of Smollett's attorneys off the case, saying that although he believed the attorney talked to two men the actor allegedly hired to carry out a phony racist and homophobic attack, that such conversations should not disqualify him from the case. Former "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett leaves the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago in this Feb. 24, 2020 photo. Matt Marton/AP Photo

The judge's ruling came two weeks after Linn held a hearing that the media and public were not allowed to attend. So it wasn't immediately clear if Uche continued to deny that he spoke to the brothers. Uche didn't immediately reply to a phone message seeking comment.

But the judge said there was convincing evidence that Uche had talked to the brothers and that the subject of those discussions included a $3,500 check. The judge didn't elaborate, but at the center of the case against Smollett is the $3,500 he allegedly paid the brothers to carry out the January 2019 attack in which the Black, openly gay actor told police, two masked men beat him and looped a makeshift noose around his neck before running off.

Smollett, who was starring in the television show "Empire" at the time of the incident, has been charged with felony counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing false police reports about what happened. He has denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty.

The next hearing in the case has been scheduled for Aug. 2.

Jussie Smollett with Lawyers
Flanked by attorneys and supporters, actor Jussie Smollett arrives at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on February 24, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images