Jussie Smollett’s lawyers claim judge ‘lunged’ at one of them

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Jussie Smollett's lawyers claim judge 'lunged' at one of them

CHICAGO — Jussie Smollett’s attorneys asked for a mistrial Thursday after the judge called their evidence irrelevant in front of the jury and “physically lunged” at one of the actor’s lawyers.

The odd fracas came in the midst of the defense’s cross-examination of Olabinjo Osundairo, who claims he was paid to help Smollett stage the hate crime, as attorney Tamara Walker grilled him about his alleged homophobia and past derogatory remarks toward suspected gay men.

Osundairo, 30, had just acknowledged he used the word “fruity ass” to refer to a man he suspected was gay and Walker asked if Smollett, who is openly gay, knew he’d said such things in the past.

Judge James Linn called the line of questioning “collateral” in front of the jury, indicating it didn’t have any relevance to the crime Smollett’s on trial for because it was from a past event, prompting Walker to ask for a sidebar.

While the attorneys were conferring with Linn, Walker claimed he “physically lunged” at her when she presented the motion for a mistrial, a claim the justice vigorously denied and was not witnessed by The Post.

“When you said the word mistrial on these grounds frankly I was stunned you’d even consider a mistrial based on this,” Linn said.

Abimbola Osundairo (right) prays with his brother Olabinjo (center), a bodyguard (left) and their attorney Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez by the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on Dec. 2, 2021.
Abimbola Osundairo (right) prays with his brother Olabinjo (center), a bodyguard (left) and their attorney Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez by the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on Dec. 2, 2021.
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

“I marched right back behind my bench,” he continued, adding he didn’t lunge at Walker.

Walker appeared close to tears as she argued back with the judge and soon left the courtroom with her mother, who was in the gallery, as the rest of Smollett’s team continued to ask for a mistrial.

Attorney Heather Widell said they had the legal grounds to ask the questions and also accused the judge of visibly “snarling” in front of the jury anytime he sustained an objection from the prosecution and wanted to make sure his non-verbal cues were on the record.

“I’ve noticed snarls multiple times,” Widell said.

The judge took the discussion into his chambers and when he emerged about 10 minutes later and brought the jury back out, he told them to ignore comments he made to the attorneys

“Sometimes words come out like ‘focus’ or ‘collateral’, that’s not part of your consideration, that’s just me communicating with the lawyers,” Linn told the panelists.

Actor Jussie Smollett (right) arrives with his mother Janet at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on Dec. 2, 2021.
Actor Jussie Smollett (right) arrives with his mother Janet at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on Dec. 2, 2021.
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

“That’s just me conducting the trial the way I think it should be conducted.”

Walker then continued with her cross-examination of Osundairo.

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