Criminal law can be tricky sometimes — especially when it comes to cases involving celebrities. After all, how can you have an impartial jury when everything the defendant has done has been widely reported? That was the argument R. Kelly’s defense wanted to use to block jurors who had seen the Surviving R. Kelly miniseries detailing his alleged misdeeds.
via: NBC News
An attorney for Kelly, whose given name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, had asked the judge to disallow from the jury anyone who had seen “Surviving R. Kelly,” a six-part Lifetime documentary, calling it “inflammatory.”
“It would be impossible for anyone who saw any part of the series to separate what they saw on TV and in the courtroom,” attorney Jennifer Bonjean said.
U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber for the Northern District of Illinois denied the request, saying that the series aired years ago and that it wouldn’t make sense to prohibit someone from serving if they’d seen only part of the series.
“Surviving R. Kelly” aired in 2019 and chronicled decades of the singer’s alleged sexual misconduct. The documentary contained more than 50 interviews and included testimony from women who accused Kelly of mental, physical and sexual abuse.
According to juror questionnaires, nine people indicated they had watched at least some of the docuseries and 70 indicated they had not.
The judge’s ruling came on the first day of jury selection in a case that stems from the complaints of several women who allege that Kelly, 55, lured them into sex acts while they were underage. At least two are expected to testify, according to court documents.
Considering the outcome of his New York trial for racketeering and sex trafficking, that might not help much. Kelly was convicted of the charges against him and sentenced to 30 years in prison in June. Kelly plans to appeal his sentence using the same legal team as his upcoming Chicago trial, who also successfully appealed Bill Cosby’s conviction.