Judge to be assigned to Jussie Smollett case during court hearing today

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The 36-year-old "Empire" actor was indicted last week for allegedly lying to Chicago police about a hate-crime attack and had been charged with disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. Police initially investigated the case as a possible hate crime.

Smollett has denied that he staged the attack and maintains he is innocent.

Smollett remained silent as he entered the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago wearing a suit and sunglasses.

Later developments cast doubt on Smollett's account, including the questioning of two suspects - a pair of Nigerian brothers, one of whom worked as a personal trainer on a music video of Smollett's - who were later released without being charged.

Fox cut Smollett's character in "Empire" after he was arrested.

The actor appeared in court earlier this week when prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to allow cameras during Thursday's hearing.

Smollett's legal team does not yet appear to have issued new comments following the arraignment, but in a previous statement they reaffirmed his claims of innocence and chided the legal system for what they perceive as a target attack. Smollett's attorneys have said they welcome cameras in court, as a counter to "misinformation" they claim has been leaked to the media since he reported being attacked on a Chicago street in January.

- Producers of "Empire" dispute media reports that Smollett's character, Jamal Lyon, was being written off the show.

"Meanwhile, following the news of his indictment, Chief Communications Officer of the Chicago Police Department Anthony Guglielmi tweeted: ". Superintendent Eddie Johnson said that the two men implicated Smollett while under police interrogation, and that authorities had the check Smollett wrote them in payment to prove it. What is unexpected, however, is the prosecutorial overkill in charging 16 separate counts against Jussie.

With lawyers and family in the Cook County courthouse, Smollett's attorney, Tina Glandian expectedly plead "not guilty" for the subdued actor to the 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct. A decision on whether he will remain with the show beyond that has not been made.

Prosecutors allege that Smollett paid the men US$3,500 to stage the attack, in an apparent bid for sympathy. They say Smollett was unhappy about his salary and wanted to drum up publicity to help his career.

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