Another Shocking Twist In The Jussie Smollett Legal Drama

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The 17 charges stem from two interactions Smollett had with police following the attack, and Smollett was hit with one felony count of obstructing justice for each statement, made to investigators, that a grand jury believed was a lie.

The agreement to drop the charges in the case came as a shock to Chicago Police Department investigators who had expended countless hours probing Smollett's claim that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic street attack on January 29 near his Chicago apartment. "(If Smollett committed a hoax) he's got to be held accountable". "By doing so, the court can not credit his privacy interest as good cause to keep the case records sealed". Just weeks after being charged, prosecutors abruptly dropped the charges and sealed the case.

After court, Tribune attorney Natalie Spears, who represented the news media in the case, said the judge's decision should be applauded.

It was unclear how long it would take the Circuit Court Clerk's Office, which maintains the criminal records, to unseal Smollett's case. The bulk of the more-than-250-page file centers on the legal battle between media organizations that wanted access to the file and Smollett's attorneys who wanted it kept sealed.

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.

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Jussie Smollett may not be back for the final season of Empire when the show returns this fall, but he's still in the public eye.

"These are not the actions of a person seeking to maintain his privacy or simply be let alone", Watkins wrote in his ruling, referring to the media blitz Smollett and his attorneys went on in the wake of the charges being dismissed. "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", Judge Watkins wrote.

In addition to the inspector general's review of Foxx's handling of the case, a retired appeals court judge is seeking a special prosecutor to investigate the Smollett case.

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, right, speaks at a news conference as Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson listens in Chicago, Feb. 22, 2019.