Jussie Smollett judge says he did not intend to ban anyone after activist barred from courtroom
Last week, the judge presiding over the trial of Jussie Smollett was accused of demanding an activist be removed from the courtroom; he has since spoken up saying he merely asked her not to sit in the front row.
Bella BAHHS (Black Ancestors Here Healing Society), an activist and rap artist, told the Chicago Tribune last week that Judge James Linn had removed her from his courtroom and prevented her from returning. Within an hour of the report’s publishing, his spokesperson contacted the Tribune to give his side of the story.
In an email, the spokesperson wrote, “To clarify, the Hon. James Linn did not intend to ban anyone from the courtroom, but asked that the person in question not be in the first row,” the emailed statement read. “The court is open to the public, subject to COVID-19 precautions that limit the number of people in the courtroom to 57.”
BAHHS, however, told a different story. She said she sat with Smollett’s family during the morning testimony on Tuesday, after which she was asked to speak to reporters in the lobby by Smollett’s lawyer. She then returned to the same seat for the afternoon testimony.
Later in the day, she claimed that a media representative told her the judge wanted her to leave the courtroom and not return. BAHHS said she returned on Thursday and was promptly escorted out.
Contrary to Linn’s claims, the Cook County sheriff’s office said in a statement that Linn had given a “verbal” order banning “an individual seated in the gallery of his courtroom from the George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building for the remainder of the trial of Jussie Smollett”, and deputies escorted the individual out in following the order. BAHHS claimed to be “physically threatened and violated” as the deputies were armed.