Jussie Smollett Case: Judge to Rule on Whether ‘Empire’ Actor’s File Should Be Unsealed

A Cook County judge was expected to issue a decision Thursday on whether the sealed file surrounding the case of actor Jussie Smollett should be unsealed.

Judge Steven Watkins was scheduled to issue his written order in a hearing beginning at 10 a.m. He previously heard oral arguments on whether the files should remain sealed on May 16.

Media attorney Natalie Spears argued then that there was no good cause for his case to remain sealed because he was so public throughout the ordeal, and that it would be harmful to the public to keep it under wraps.

Smollett’s attorney Brian Watson contended that the “Empire” actor has a right to privacy under various statutes that are afforded to thousands of other people every year, and that the media was allowed to cover the process of the case itself, so the public was not barred from learning any new developments.

On Jan. 29, Smollett reported that he was the victim of an attack in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood, claiming to have been beaten by two men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs, hit him, put a noose around his neck and poured bleach on him, court documents show.

Chicago police initially investigated the incident as a hate crime, but alleged the following month that he orchestrated the attack himself because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.”

He was initially charged with one felony count of disorderly conduct in filing a false police report, before a Cook County grand jury then indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts.

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Smollett pleaded not guilty before all charges against him were dropped on March 28 in exchange for his forfeiture of his $10,000 bond and his performance of community service.

The file was sealed in late March when prosecutors abruptly dropped all charges, drawing criticism of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and calls for a special prosecutor to be appointed in the case. A hearing in that request was schedule for May 31.

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