Cook County Judge Stephen Watkins unsealed the documents that stemmed from the criminal charges against former Empire actor Jussie Smollett. Smollett’s lawyers got the records on his case sealed at March hearing—over which Watkins presided—where the 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report for dismissed. Smollett wanted to keep the case under wraps — but something Smollett did after the case really hurt him.
“Smollett voluntarily appeared on national television speaking about the incident in detail,” Judge Watkins said. “After the March dismissal, he stood in front of numerous cameras… in the courthouse lobby speaking about the case.” He added, “these are not the actions of a person seeking simply to maintain his privacy or simply to be let alone.”
The files were originally sealed under an Illinois law that allows the documents of dismissed cases to remain sealed. The media organizations argue that the national news coverage of Smollett’s case gives the public a right to view those documents. Smollett’s lawyers argue that he should not be treated any differently than anyone else just because his case gained publicity. The judge ruled against Smollett.”
Smollett claimed he was doused with a bleach-like substance while out walking in Chicago. He said two attackers came armed with a noose and spewed racist and homophobic slurs at him, declaring that it was “MAGA country.” After a while, Chicago Police accused Smollett of paying Abel and Ola Osundairo to stage a hate crime.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx came under fire after she announced that in exchange for the charges being dropped, Smollett will forfeit his $10,000 bond and agreeing to perform “voluntary” community service. Foxx said that, “after reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case.”
[Image via Facebook screengrab]