R. Kelly’s trial for racketeering and sex crimes has been postponed to August 18 at the request of his defense team.
The disgraced singer, 54, first appeared in person before District Judge Ann Donnelly who is presiding over her case in federal court in Brooklyn.
The jury selection process will still take place on August 9 as scheduled.
At Thursday’s hearing ahead of his impending trial, pre-trial concerns were discussed, including settling possible disputes involving his lawyers and the accused’s renewed bail attempt and adjournment of the trial – which is now set for August 18.
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Fox News previously confirmed that two of the singer’s attorneys had asked to step down from the attorney.
Mike Leonard and Steven Greenberg sent a letter to Donnelly just days ago, saying they believed it was “impossible” to “continue to properly represent Mr. Kelly under the current circumstances”.
Earlier this week Kelly, 54, told a judge in a hearing over the phone that he wanted to fire the lawyers. His remaining attorneys, Thomas Farinella, Douglas Anton and Nicole Becker, told Fox News that Leonard and Greenberg had in fact been fired, although the two disputed the claim.
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The war of words between R. Kelly’s lawyers continued in Thursday’s hearing and came to a head when a judge berated the litigants for their behavior in and outside the court.
Judge Donnelly asked Farinella, “Are you seriously asserting, what you say in your letter, that your advisor actively kept Mr. Kelly’s discovery documents?” (..) The lawyer claimed that he had “specific proof of this statement” and that, by last March, their client had “not seen a single piece of paper”.
The disputes went so far that Donnelly called on the team to stop the name calling.
“Frankly, I’ve had enough,” Donnelly said. Farinella told the judge he “did not engage in profanity” but then continued with his charges.
Greenberg, who was on a teleconference, told the judge: “I don’t appreciate my name being dragged through the mud like this,” but did not elaborate.
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Donnelly said she plans to approve the withdrawal request before trial after a hearing on July 15.
Kelly was escorted into the courtroom Thursday by the US Marshals, wearing a green shirt and dark sweatpants. He was not handcuffed although he kept his hands behind him as he walked.
Kelly remained calm and silent throughout the proceedings, speaking only once to respond to the judge on a procedural matter and Kelly nodded as her attorneys spoke.
He also nodded once to a guest in the audience as he rose to leave – although there were a few supporters in the courtroom, including a woman who shouted as she walked out: ” We love you, Robert, we love you. “
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The defense had argued for an adjournment of the trial, complaining that a quarantine after his transfer had prevented them from seeing their client. The judge was prepared to grant up to two weeks delay, but the government said “one of the victims named in the indictment” was due in late August and may not be able to make it to the city. New York.
R. Kelly faces charges of racketeering, child sexual exploitation, bribery, kidnapping and forced labor.
Judge Donnelly has denied R. Kelly’s new bail attempt, saying she still sees him as a danger to the community and a risk of absconding.
Kelly was arrested in 2019 and is on trial on racketeering charges, alleging he was running a criminal enterprise to commit sex crimes against underage women and girls.
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Last June, he was transferred from a federal prison in Chicago to a federal prison in New York, where he will likely remain until his trial begins in August.
Kelly’s trial in New York is still scheduled to begin in August.
He will also face trial in Chicago federal court in September, where he faces several counts of sexual abuse, including allegedly plotting to rig his 2008 child pornography trial by paying witnesses and victims.
Fox News’ Nate Day contributed to this report.