R. Kelly‘s trial on racketeering and sex crimes charges has been pushed to August 18 at the request of his defense team.
The disgraced singer, 54, appeared in person for the first time in front of District Judge Ann Donnelly who is presiding over his case in a Brooklyn federal court.
The jury selection process will still take place on August 9 as planned.
At Thursday’s hearing ahead of his looming trial, pretrial concerns were discussed, namely to address possible conflicts involving his attorneys and the defendant’s renewed attempt for release on bail and adjournment of the trial – which is now set for August 18.
Fox News previously confirmed that two of the singer’s attorneys requested to withdraw themselves from counsel.
Mike Leonard and Steven Greenberg sent a letter to Donnelly just days ago, claiming that they believe it “impossible” to “continue to properly represent Mr. Kelly under the current circumstances.”
Earlier this week, Kelly, 54, told a judge in a hearing held by telephone that he wished to terminate the attorneys. His remaining attorneys, Thomas Farinella, Douglas Anton and Nicole Becker told Fox News that Leonard and Greenberg were in fact terminated, though the two disputed the claim.
The war of words among R. Kelly’s attorneys continued at Thursday’s hearing and came to a head when a judge admonished the litigators for their behavior in and out of court.
Judge Donnelly asked Farinella: “Are you seriously asserting, what you say on your letter, that your counselor actively kept discovery material from Mr. Kelly? (..) The attorney claimed he had “specific proof of that statement” and that, by last March, their client had “not seen a single piece of paper.”
The disputes have gone so far that Donnelly asked the team to stop with the name-calling.
“I frankly have had enough,” said Donnelly. Farinella declared to the judge he had “not engaged in mudslinging,” but then continued with his accusations.
Greenberg, who was on through teleconference, told the judge, “I don’t appreciate my name being dragged to the mud like this,” but didn’t elaborate.
Donnelly said she plans to approve the withdrawal request before the trial after a hearing on July 15.
Kelly was escorted into the courtroom on Thursday by the US Marshals in a green shirt and dark sweatpants. He was not handcuffed though he kept his hands behind as he walked.
Kelly remained calm and silent throughout the proceeding, only speaking once to reply to the judge on a procedural question and Kelly nodded as his lawyers spoke.
He also nodded once at a guest in the audience as he got up to leave – although there were a few supporters in the courtroom, including a woman who shouted as he walked out: “We love you, Robert, we love you.”
The defense had argued for a trial adjournment complaining that a quarantine after his transfer had impeded them to see their client. The judge was willing to give as much as a two-week delay, but the government presented that “one of the named victims in the indictment” is due in late August and may not be able to travel to New York.
R. Kelly faces charges that include racketeering, sexual exploitation of a child, bribery, kidnapping, and forced labor.
Judge Donnelly denied R. Kelly’s renewed attempt at bail arguing she stills considers him a danger to the community and risk of flight.
Kelly was arrested in 2019 and is being tried on racketeering charges alleging he ran a criminal enterprise to commit sex crimes against women and underage girls.
Last June, he was transferred from a Chicago to a New York federal prison, where he will likely stay until his trial begins this August.
Kelly’s trial in New York is still set to begin in August.
He will also be tried in Chicago‘s federal court in September where he faces multiple sex abuse-related counts, including allegedly conspiring to rig his child pornography trial in 2008 by paying off witnesses and victims.
Fox News’ Nate Day contributed to this report.
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