Jussie Smollett takes the stand after defense attorney claims judge 'lunged' at her (Update)

AP Photo/Paul Beaty

After watching enough high-profile trials you begin to get a sense of when one side or the other is becoming desperate. For instance, during the trial of Cristhian Rivera for the murder of Mollie Tibbetts, the defense came out with an 11th hour story about men in ski masks forcing Rivera to driver her body to a field and unload it. It was the first time anyone had heard that story and contradicted what he had told police when he was interviewed. They were clearly getting desperate.

We saw some of the same desperation during the Rittenhouse trial though, curiously, it was most obviously coming from the media who had long ago created a bubble of falsehood around the case that was suddenly destroyed by the verdict.

And last week we saw some desperation coming from the defense in the Jussie Smollett case. One of his attorneys called for a mistrial after alleging that the judge lunged at her during a sidebar conversation. This allegedly happened after attorney Tamara Walker was cross-examining Olabinjo Osundairo, one of the brothers allegedly hired to carry out the attack on Smollett. Walker was pointing to some comments Osundairo had made about gay men on social media and at some point the judge cut her off and said the questioning was “collateral,” meaning not relevant. At that point, Walker asked 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 which 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.

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

Walker appeared close to tears as she argued 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.

Heather Widell, one of Smollett’s other attorneys accused the judge of “snarling” during the trial, which sounds a bit desperate to me. In any case, the attempts to portray the Osundairo brothers as homophobic was happening at the same time the defense was claiming one of the brothers had a sexual relationship with Smollett:

On Wednesday, Abimbola had told jurors that he and Smollett had gone to the Steamworks bathhouse together in Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood, a predominantly gay community, and on Thursday, Allen asked if gay pornography was played on the televisions inside the spa.

“I don’t recall,” Abimbola said.

“You don’t recall seeing gay pornography? . . . You don’t remember masturbating with him?” Allen asked.

Abimbola said, “No.”

I don’t know where the truth is here but last week the brothers produced a photo showing them in costumes handing out condoms at a gay pride parade. So the idea that they beat up Smollett because he was gay seems like a stretch.

Finally, Smollett took the stand in his own defense today, trying to maintain his cockamamie story that the attack against him was real.

Around that point the trial took a break for lunch. It should be resuming shortly. It’s not clear if we’ll get to the cross-examination of Smollett today or if that will happen tomorrow. I’ll update this post if there are any dramatic developments this afternoon.

Update: Some more updates on Smollett’s testimony from Matt Finn.

Don Lemon admitted to texting Smollett back in 2019.

That’s it for now. It’s getting pretty late in the day so it’s looking like jury may not start deliberations until tomorrow.

Update: There was only a bit more today. Cross-examination will continue tomorrow.