R. Kelly attorney told singer will have to appear in state court for future hearings

The judge in R. Kelly’s ongoing state court case told his defense attorney Thursday that going forward he wants the R&B superstar in the courtroom for hearings — though Kelly was excused from attending the next one.

Kelly has long been absent from status hearings in the state case, where little of note has happened while the singer faced federal prosecutions in New York and Chicago.

Judge Lawrence Flood said he wanted Kelly, who is currently being held in federal custody, to attend any "substantive" hearings.

Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison earlier this year on his conviction for trafficking young girls for sex and racketeering in New York and was convicted by a federal jury last month in Chicago on child pornography charges that could potentially add decades of prison time for the singer.

Flood told prosecutors and Kelly’s defense attorney, Steve Greenberg, Thursday that, "I think we need to start looking for a resolution in these matters, or trial."


Prosecutors said they were not ready to make a decision about whether they would continue with their prosecution.

Assistant State’s Attorney Tene McCoy Cummings told Flood her office was still working through a review of the federal case against Kelly and asked for another status hearing, which was set for Nov. 7.

Flood said Kelly was not required to attend that one.

Greenberg has advocated for prosecutors to drop the state charges, arguing they carry a lighter potential sentence for the singer than the federal charges he’s already been convicted of.

The Cook County charges stem from allegations as far back as 1998, as well as the alleged 2003 sexual assault of a hairstylist who was 24 at the time.

Among the alleged victims is a woman whose abuse was the basis of 2002 child pornography charges filed against the singer in Cook County — which Kelly beat at trial in 2008 — and the Chicago federal case that concluded last month.

Referred to as "Jane" during the federal trial, she took the stand to testify against the singer in August that Kelly began abusing her at 14.

While the counts against Kelly in his federal cases involve sexual abuse of minors and in some cases the same victims, double jeopardy would not apply because state and federal prosecutors represent separate "sovereign" tiers of government, said veteran defense attorney Kulmeet "Bob" Galhotra. But with the 55-year-old singer already facing 80 years in federal prison, it would be unusual for local prosecutors to press the case, Galhotra said.

"Typically, you’ll see prosecutors at the local level drop, say, a gun case where the feds have charged them for the same incident," Galhotra said.

"With Kelly, you have a high-profile case, and you have to look at the resources it will take to bring it to trial, and the personal cost to witnesses that have already had to testify. Not prosecuting these cases would be perfectly defensible from that perspective."

Political consultant Delmarie Cobb said that the public reaction to dropping the charges against Kelly wouldn’t much trouble Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who won reelection two years ago despite the backlash from the controversial decision to drop charges against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett for faking a hate-crime attack in 2019.

"People understand that [Kelly] has already been convicted," Cobb said. "There will be those that say this would be piling on. And this case has not been in the news as much as it was before he was convicted [in New York]."