Judge to unseal Jussie Smollett case file

Judge to unseal Jussie Smollett case file

Smollett's case files were sealed in the same hearing where the Cook County States Attorney announced that they would drop 17 felony counts against the "Empire" actor in return for approximately 16 hours of community service and a $10,000 check - the "down payment" Smollett left with the court when he was let out on bond. Watkins said that while there are good arguments for keeping the file sealed, Smollett forfeited his right to protect his privacy by talking to the media before and after prosecutors dismissed the charges against him.

"To be sure, it is easily conceivable that a defendant whose case was dismissed would wish to maintain his sense of privacy, even if, perhaps especially if, the media covered the case", Judge Steven G. Watkins wrote in the decision.

Cook County State's Attorney Kimberly Foxx, who had recused herself from the case because she had spoken to a relative of Smollett about the police investigation, said in media interviews that because the actor had no prior criminal record and was not charged with a violent felony, he qualified for an "alternative disposition". "By doing so, the court can not credit his privacy interest as good cause to keep the case records sealed". "After the March 26 dismissal, he voluntarily stood in front of cameras from numerous news organizations in the courthouse lobby and spoke about the case".


Watson, the Smollett attorneys, argued at the time that the actor is entitled under the law to have his file sealed from public view. It will be an uphill battle, though, as the original decision to seal the case was nearly as unusual as the decision to let Smollett off the hook.

However, Thursday's order says that Smollett's defense team requested the files be sealed and prosecutors did not object.

A former top aide to Michelle Obama refused to be served a subpoena Wednesday related to her contact with Chicago prosecutor Kim Foxx in the Jussie Smollett case.


At Foxx's request, the IG is conducting a review of how Foxx's office handled the Smollett prosecution.

The City of Chicago officially filed a lawsuit against "Empire" star Jussie Smollett weeks ago; seeking to recoup the costs associated with his alleged hate crime hoax that occupied more than 24 police officers over a two-week period.

Smollett, who is black and gay, told police in January that he was attacked by two masked men as he was walking home around 2 a.m. Eddie Johnson to ask him to turn the investigation over to the FBI.


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