Wednesday marked the first day of the federal trial in New York for disgraced R&B icon R. Kelly, who faces racketeering and sex trafficking charges and could be looking at decades in prison if he’s convicted.
One of the unique things about this trial—besides the fact that it involves an embattled singer who once had many of us stepping in the name of love and is now a financially struggling accused serial predator—is that the presiding judge, U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly, ruled that the jurors selected for the trial would be the only members of the public allowed in the courtroom and that the press wouldn’t be allowed either, which is an unusual ruling for a trial of this magnitude, according to CBS 58.
Clearly, Donnelly is looking to keep this trial as private as possible, and one person who may not have gotten that memo is Kelly attorney Thomas Farinella, who prosecutors said violated Donnelly’s ruling, Local Rule 23.1, Court TV reported Thursday.
According to Court TV, prosecutors waited until jurors weren’t present to inform the court of Farinella’s loose Twitter fingers.
That’s when Donnelly reportedly scolded him on the spot.
“Didn’t I tell you not to speak to media?” she asked Farinella in court.
Farinella reportedly apologized and said he didn’t realize that was a violation of the court’s rules.
Farinella is the only member of Kelly’s defense team who isn’t newly hired. He became a prominent and publicly visible member of the team after Kelly’s former attorneys, Steve Greenberg and Michael Leonard, withdrew from the case saying in their request to be removed, “Our reasons for withdrawal are significant and it is impossible, in our belief, for us to be able to continue to properly represent Mr. Kelly under the current circumstances.”
Farinella, on the other hand, appears to still be all in when it comes to representing the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer. In fact, he told Court TV that he wrote Kelly’s bond appeal in 2019 and is representing him in a New York Supreme Court civil case.
Clearly, Farinella believes he’s fighting the good fight in representing Kelly, so much so that he’s possibly willing to cross the judge’s orders in being very public about what’s going on at trial and how he feels about the charges against his client.