Smollett arrived at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse shortly before 9 a.m., greeted by a handful of supporters holding signs reading "I Stand With Jussie" and "I Believe Jussie Smollett". Smollett chose to appear at a brief hearing at Cook County criminal court earlier this week, during which Judge LeRoy Martin reportedly ruled to allow cameras in the courtroom on Thursday but clarified that a trial judge would make the final decision. When Watkins warned him to show up on time for each future court hearing or risk jail time, Smollett replied, "Yes, your honor".
The actor is accused of falsifying a police report, and lying to police.
Chicago police eventually arrested Smollett on suspicion that he had faked the incident "to promote his career", saying at a news conference last month that he paid his would-be attackers - brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo - to carry it out.
Smollett was initially charged with one count of lying to the authorities on February 20. Police and prosecutors have said that attack was a hoax, but Smollett's attorneys said they want the public to see the evidence, or lack thereof, in the case.
Watkins granted Smollett's request to be allowed to meet with lawyers in NY and California, but said the actor must give the court at least 48 hours' prior notice. "And we look forward to complete transparency and the truth coming out".
In an indictment returned by a grand jury last Thursday, Smollett, who is black, openly gay and plays a gay musician on Fox's hip-hop drama, was charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct alleging he gave false accounts of an attack on him to police investigators.
CBS 2's Charlie De Mar has reported Smollett also directed the brothers to buy the noose at a hardware store and the hat and masks at a store in Uptown. Superintendent Eddie Johnson said that the two men implicated Smollett while under police interrogation, and that authorities had the check Smollett wrote them in payment to prove it.
The brothers are not facing charges.
Smollett has denied all the allegations.