“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty in an Illinois courtroom on Thursday to disorderly conduct charges over allegations he staged a hate crime and lied to police. Smollett’s case was assigned to a trial judge, Judge Steven Watkins, before the actor’s lawyer Tina Glandian entered not guilty pleas on his behalf to the 16 counts.
The 36-year-old actor arrived at the courthouse shortly before 9 a.m., the station reports, greeted by a handful of supporters holding signs reading “I Stand With Jussie” and “I Believe Jussie Smollett,” reports CBS Chicago.
Smollett said “not guilty” as his lawyer entered the plea. When Watkins warned him to show up on time for each future court hearing or risk jail time, Smollett replied, “Yes, your honor.”
Watkins granted Smollett’s request to be allowed to leave the state meet with his lawyers in New York and California, but said the actor must give the court at least 48 hours’ prior notice. The next court date was scheduled for April 17.