An Illinois judge ordered the case file for actor Jussie Smollet’s alleged hate crime hoax to be unsealed. The judge made the decision on May 23.
“There is no way to secrete the fact of Jussie Smollett’s arrest. At this point it is widely and publicly known from here to Helsinki and back,” said Natalie Spears, an attorney for the Chicago Tribune. “No potential employer, let alone anyone with a pulse, does not know about Jussie Smollett’s arrest at this point.”
Spears’s argument counters those made by Smollett’s attorneys that unsealing the records could impact Smollett’s future prospects.
Maybe he can assert “executive privilege.”
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) May 23, 2019
The court heard arguments for media organizations last week seeking to unseal the case, the Chicago Tribune reported. Smollett’s lawyers worked to have the files sealed moments after charges were dropped against Smollett for faking a hate crime.
Chicago police brought charges against Smollett after they determined he paid $3,500 to two people he knew who are brothers to help him stage an attack, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The brothers are now suing Smollett’s attorneys for defamation, according to Fox News. The city of Chicago is also suing Smollett to recoup the costs of the investigation into a crime that allegedly never happened.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx inexplicably dropped all charges against Smollett. Now Illinois Appellate Judge Sheila O’Brien is looking to appoint a special prosecutor to look into how Foxx’s office handled the case.
O’Brien issued a subpoena to Chicago attorney Tina Tchen, who was in contact with Foxx shortly before the charges were dropped. O’Brien wants her to hand over all records of her communications with Foxx regarding Jussie Smollett. Tchen refused the subpoena, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Here is a copy of the subpoena intended for Tina Tchen. pic.twitter.com/PqWlPqndmt
— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) May 22, 2019
Tchen had served as Michelle Obama’s chief of staff during her time as first lady. When a process server went to Tchen’s law firm to serve the subpoena, Tchen refused to come to the lobby, Edward Ryan, who runs the firm that sent the process server, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“I don’t know why she’d turn it down. She’ll be served eventually,” Ryan told the Sun-Times.
Got a tip that SA Kim Foxx would be at circuit court of Cook County today for a meeting. Had no comment when I asked if she was concerned about Sheila O’Brien’s subpoena to have her office investigated. Apologize for the bad camera work. That’s not my union. #JussieSmollett. pic.twitter.com/2IwgMzXLPA
— Rafer Weigel (@RaferWeigel) May 14, 2019
According to the Sun-Times, Tchen issued a statement back in March relating to the situation:
“Shortly after Mr. Smollett reported he was attacked, as a family friend, I contacted Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who I also know from prior work together. My sole activity was to put the chief prosecutor in the case in touch with an alleged victim’s family who had concerns about how the investigation was being characterized in public.”
The Sun-Times said that Tchen gave Foxx’s phone number to a relative of Smollett before the charges were dropped.
Tina Tchen had denied any effort to sway the outcome of the Jussie Smollett case. On Wednesday, she refused to be served with a subpoena related to a petition requesting an investigation into the handling of the actor’s criminal case, @samjcharles reports. https://t.co/hoDHJckkJS
— Chicago Sun-Times (@Suntimes) May 22, 2019
Smollett was facing 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct, according to NBC News.
After earlier speculation, Fox extended Smollett’s contract for Season 6 of “Empire,” even though they haven’t said specifically whether or not he will make an appearance on the show.
“By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for Season 6,” Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV said in a statement, via Bloomberg. “But at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to ‘Empire.’”