The latest mishap in the Jussie Smollett case comes by way of Smollett’s attorney, Tamara Walker, who accused the judge of threatening her.
On Thursday, Walker requested a mistrial over claims Cook County Judge James Linn of “physically lunging” at her, CBS News reports. Reports say that the encounter happened during a sidebar conversation with attorneys from both sides and Judge Linn.
The judge denied the accusations and also denied the motion for a mistrial.
“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.”
Walker appeared to be close to tears while debating with the judge and left the courtroom with her mother while the rest of Smollett’s team continued to ask for a mistrial, NY Post reports. The heated exchange came after cross-examination of Olabinjo Osundairo, who said Smollett paid him and his brother to stage the hate crime against the Empire star.
During the questioning, the judge called the line of questioning “collateral” in front of the jury, claiming it didn’t have any relevance to the crime Smollett is on trial for. The judge’s response prompted Walker to ask for a sidebar, but the alleged threat was made during the sidebar.
Attorney Heather Widell accused the judge of “snarling” at them while they asked questions that they had the legal grounds to ask.
“I’ve noticed snarls multiple times,” Widell said.
The judge emerged about 10 minutes later following the exchange and told the jury 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 jury. “That’s just me conducting the trial the way I think it should be conducted.”